Visas for NHS staff extended by a year to help tackle coronavirus outbreak
Around 2,800 NHS staff will benefit from the extension
Overseas NHS staff will be handed a 12-month visa extension as part of the efforts to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, the Home Office has announced.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said around 2,800 frontline medical staff would be given the extension to allow them to focus on the fight against Covid-19.
The measures will mean doctors, nurses and paramedics whose visas were due to expire before October 1 will be automatically granted an extra year free of charge, while their families will also be handed the same extension.
Announcing the decision, Ms Patel said she hoped the move would give NHS staff "peace of mind" while working with patients suffering from the illness.
"Doctors, nurses and paramedics from all over the world are playing a leading role in the NHS's efforts to tackle coronavirus and save lives," she said.
"We owe them a great deal of gratitude for all that they do.I don't want them distracted by the visa process.
"That is why I have automatically extended their visas - free of charge - for a further year."
The move comes as the number of confirmed UK cases passed 22,000, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning his Cabinet the situation would "get worse before it gets better".
Meanwhile, the Home Office also announced it had lifted restrictions on the amount of hours student doctors and nurses can work in the NHS during their training in a bid to boost the number of frontline workers tackling the outbreak.
The department also said they had extended deadlines for registered overseas nurses to sit their exams so they could focus their efforts on working in frontline roles.