Since the launch of the Health and Care visa in August 2020, more than 20,000 individuals have been granted with a visa for the UK under this category.
In an effort to combat the pervasive shortage of frontline health and care workers in the UK, the Home Secretary has announced that one-year visa extensions will be automatically granted, at no cost, to eligible overseas health and care workers whose visas are coming up to expiry prior to 1 October 2021. This provision will allow international doctors, nurses, paramedics, midwives, occupational therapists, and psychologists to continue their work in the UK fighting against the coronavirus.
One of the long-standing staff shortages in the NHS are nurses. NHS hospitals, mental health services and community providers are currently reporting a shortage of almost 84,000 staff, with 38,000 of these vacancies being nurses (representing 1 in 10 posts).
The UK Government set a target of acquiring 50,000 new nurses in England by 2024/2025, in an attempt to fully recover from the impacts of the pandemic. A multi-faceted international recruitment consortium contracted with the NHS to facilitate the recruitment of overseas nurses in three waves, with the first wave being from India.
As ever with the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, the introduction of the highly transmissible Indian variant to the UK put a halt to the Government’s plans. India was added to the UK’s red list on 23 April 2021, and in turn, on 30 April, the UK Government requested that there should be an immediate pause on all nurses travelling from India to the UK to work for the NHS.
Until further notice, Indian nurses granted with Health and Care visas can no longer rely on the ‘managed quarantine service’ (MQS), which exempted them from red-list hotel managed quarantine and permitted them to reside in Covid-compliant NHS Trust-arranged accommodation.
It has yet to be seen what the long-term impact of the pause on recruitment of nurses from India will be on the Government’s plans to ease staff shortages within the NHS.
The Government has put multiple temporary provisions in place to help facilitate the immigration of skilled workers to the UK, despite there being travel bans due to the coronavirus. Please contact our Immigration team for up-to-date advice on your particular circumstances.