Thia article was taken from: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/10/gps-should-be-on-list-of-shortage-occupations-royal-college-says
By:Denis Campbell, Health policy editor
Royal College of GPs urges home secretary to include doctors on list of shortage occupations to help plug gaps in workforce
GPs’ leaders are urging ministers to add family doctors to the UK’s list of shortage occupations, to make it easier for overseas doctors to help plug the widening gaps in the GP workforce.
The Royal College of GPs has written to Amber Rudd, the home secretary, asking her to declare family doctors a key group of workers who deserve priority in their efforts to pursue their careers in the UK.
Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, the college’s chair, wants GPs trained outside the European Union to be given extra help so they can help to tackle desperate shortages that force patients to wait for a consultation. “The need for urgent action on this issue continues to grow,” she told Rudd.
Speaking to the Guardian, Stokes-Lampard added: “It’s baffling that whilst our profession is experiencing such widespread workforce shortages, GPs are not on the shortage occupation list, which cuts out some of the arduous bureaucracy involved in relocating to the UK from abroad, while ballet dancers, animators and orchestra musicians are.
“I value the arts greatly, but I also value the NHS, and the NHS relies on a robust, reliable general practice service.”
Health professionals in areas of care facing particularly acute shortages, such as paramedics, radiographers and old age psychiatrists, are already on the list.
Nurses were added to it in 2015 by the , which advises the Home Office. The number of EU-trained nurses and health visitors working in the NHS in England has soared since that change, from 16,888 in 2015 to 22,232 by 31 March this year – a rise of 32% – although the NHS is still short of an estimated 40,000 nurses.
NHS England recently increased the number of GPs it is hoping to recruit from abroad – from 500 to 2,000-3,000 – to help the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, deliver his pledge that England will have 5,000 more GPs by 2020 than it had in 2015.
“We need to be doing everything in our power to tackle the desperate shortage of GPs right across the UK, and that includes breaking down barriers that are deterring appropriately trained doctors from overseas who want to join us in delivering care to over 1 million patients a day”, added Stokes-Lampard.
Her plea to Rudd is an attempt to get high-level political support for family doctors being added to the shortage occupation list following failed attempts by the royal college to persuade the MAC to do so.
n her letter, she asks Rudd to reduce the long waits and delays often faced by overseas-trained doctors hoping to become a GP in the NHS, even if she does not add family doctors to the shortage list. The Home Office is in charge of processing such requests.
She cites the case of a UK-trained GP from overseas who was unable to take up a job offer from a GP practice because the surgery encountered such “extremely challenging” obstacles to hiring them that they opted for a locum instead. The GP concerned was deported soon after.
In another case, a doctor from south-east Asia who had done her GP training in Scotland was offered a job in England. However, she was unable to accept the post because the Home Office told her it would take up to 18 weeks to decide on a visa sponsorship application for her from a GP surgery, which could have been after her existing visa expired.
Stokes-Lampard also told Rudd about another overseas-trained doctor who had worked as a GP in the NHS for more than five years. He said that he “feels discriminated against and unwelcome due to the persistent threats of deportation” and the fact that it cost him £5,056 to apply for a Tier 2 visa for himself and his family.
The most recent annual GP patient survey in July showed that on 47.5m occasions last year patients could not get an appointment with a GP or practice nurse as a result of staff shortages.
The Home Office signalled that no change was likely, though, because it is bound by the MAC’s advice.
“This government is committed to building an immigration system which works for everyone, and we keep all immigration routes under review.
“The last time the independent Migration Advisory Committee were commissioned to review whether GPs should be added to the shortage occupation list they did not recommend including them,” a Home Office spokesman said.
The Department of Health and NHS England both declined to say whether or not they support the royal college’s stance.