Theresa May faces Cabinet rebellion over visas for foreign medics

Posted On: 
2nd June 2018

Theresa May is facing a Cabinet rift over visa restrictions that mean the NHS misses out on hundreds of foreign medics.

Jeremy Hunt's calls for a exemption for doctors and nurses are backed by Sajid Javid.

The Home Secretary Sajid Javid has thrown his weight behind the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s calls for a temporary exemption for doctors and nurses to a cap on skilled workers from outside the EU. 

Chancellor Philip Hammond and Business Secretary Greg Clark are also ready to back their Cabinet colleagues, according to the Daily Mail.  

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The Prime Minister refused to relax the rules when the former Home Secretary Amber Rudd asked for the restrictions to be eased.

But she faces a backbench revolt a dozens of Conservative MPs signed a letter calling for the cap to be lifted. 

The letter, written by South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen, said “forcing the country to make a binary choice between professionals needed to grow the economy and professionals needed to staff our health system”. 

It adds: “Without urgent intervention, we believe our NHS is heading towards a perfect storm.”

Dr Sarah Wollaston, the Tory chair of the Commons health select committee, said the visa cap on doctors “makes no sense at all”.

She said: “It should be lifted immediately, and in a way that does not disadvantage other skilled groups, such as scientists.

“Our immigration policy should be designed to benefit the UK – not leave science, healthcare and industry with a shortfall of vital skilled workers.” 

The annual quota of 20,700 for Tier 2 visas available to skilled workers outside the EU is part of the government’s manifesto pledge to reduce net migration to below 100,000 a year. 

Hunt has announced plans for five new medical schools to try and address a shortfall of doctors in the NHS by 2025. He is calling for doctors and nurses to be removed from the Tier 2 cap until the newly-trained students enter the workforce.