Ministers pledge fast-track visas for doctors and nurses hoping to move to UK
Conservative ministers have announced plans to make it easier for doctors and nurses hoping to move to the UK to obtain visas if they win the election.
The party's frontbench said medical professionals will be given “preferential treatment” over applicants with other jobs and that decisions on their applications would be “guaranteed” within two weeks.
They will also pay half the amount faced by others to undergo the process, at £464 rather than £928, and will be able to pay the cost of the Immigration Health Surcharge through their salary.
Ministers said the policy will form part of their planned points-based immigration system, which would come into place once Britain has fully left the European Union.
They added that extra points would "always" be given to prospective NHS employees.
It follows Boris Johnson's pledge in August to ditch the cap on the number of "exceptional talent" visas which are currently handed out, in a bid to attract those working in science, engineering and technology.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the plans would allow the UK to "control numbers while remaining open to vital professions like nurses".
"That means the best of both worlds – attracting talent from around the world so our NHS continues to provide brilliant service while ensuring that it isn’t put under strain by opening Britain’s borders to the entire world," she said.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "I want the NHS to offer each and every one of us the best care in the world, and so as well as expanding training at home, I want to attract the very best talent in the world to our NHS too."
"From its inception the NHS has recruited globally. This new visa will make it easier for us to hire the finest doctors and nurses from other nations to come and work in the NHS - so that patients can receive the best possible care. It’s all part of our long-term plan to ensure the NHS is always there for you in your moment of need."