The government should remove all health professionals from the Tier-2 cap on skilled workers to tackle the NHS’s growing staffing crisis and ensure that there are enough highly-skilled professionals to care for patients. The most recent government announcements that restrictions will be eased do not go far enough to secure for the NHS the staff it needs.
Despite the brilliant efforts of NHS staff who work tirelessly in the face of increasing pressures, years of pay restraint and a failure to invest in and plan properly for the workforce has resulted in vacancies for nearly 100,000 staff, including 35,000 nursing vacancies and 10,000 doctor vacancies. The government has also abolished bursaries for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals resulting in the number of applications for nursing courses falling by over 15,000.
Our health service has always relied on the contribution of overseas workers. Yet concerns have been raised that the government’s ‘hostile environment’ approach to immigration policy is failing patients as the NHS is unable to recruit more doctors and nurses from overseas. The NHS must be able hire the staff it needs from abroad to provide safe levels of care and I believe Ministers should be doing so much more to ensure that hospitals can get the right numbers of staff in place.
I will continue to press the government to ensure that hospitals right across the country can recruit enough skilled medical professionals to provide the care patients deserve.