UK govt’s carrot for health workers

As bold as brass”, the saying goes. Isn’t the United Kingdom government audacious? Despite its National Health Service being one of the industrialised world’s most efficient health care systems (and substantially of lower cost than those of other advanced European countries such as France, Germany, Sweden or Switzerland) , the UK is not resting on its laurels to further fortify its health sector.

Similar to the opportunities offered in 2002-2008 through the HSMP scheme for highly skilled professionals to relocate to the UK with their family members, the UK government is at it again. Unlike the HSMP programme, this time round, the scheme is designed to bring the best of global health professionals to work in the NHS and for the NHS commissioned service providers thereby limiting the opportunities basically to doctors, nurses and other health professionals. The programme is christened “Health and care visa”.

The idea of the “Health and care visa” was initially trumpeted to the members of the public by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in November 2019 while campaigning to “Get Brexit Done” when he unveiled plans for half-price visas and preferential immigration processes for doctors and nurses wanting to work in the UK. There and then, he promised to introduce the programme after the UK must have ‘brexited’ Europe.

Echoing the stand of the Prime Minister ( and of course that of the Conservative Party) on the initiative, the UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, also said: “These measures are part of our plan for an Australian-style points-based immigration system that allows us 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.”

Reacting to the statements made by the PM and the HS then, Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, confirmed the position of things when she said “…Failure to train enough nurses is leaving (the) NHS and social care short-staffed and forced us to recruit overseas in the short-term…There are tens of thousands of unfilled nursing jobs and we need more ambitious plans than this to address it.”

Read the full article in Punch

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