NHS expat medical specialists planning to leave due to soaring visa and healthcare fees

Published:  13 May at 6 PM
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Expat medics from across the world are now leaving the NHS and the UK due to high charges for healthcare and visas.

The NHS crisis is being exacerbated as literally thousands of foreign doctors and healthcare workers are giving up and relocating elsewhere due to high visa charges totalling thousands of pounds as well as the £400 annual heathcare fee levied both on them and on their family members. In testimonies to the EveryDoctor campaign, over 500 doctors from non-EU member states have voiced their anger and concern over how foreign medical specialists are being treated.

The medic-run campaign’s brief is to improve the treatment of doctors from overseas who’re working in the already over-stretched NHS, with one doctor originally from India telling the media he believes expatriate medical professionals are being seen as second-class and are therefore unwanted and disposable. The doctor adds that he loves his NHS work as well as what the free service represents, but is reluctant to keep fighting against British immigration in order to stay in the UK. As a result, he’s now exploring other job opportunities outside Britain.

Doctors and other medical professionals from outside the EU’s 27 member states are now demanding either cuts or the scrapping of visa charges, as well as an end to the immigration healthcare charge, recently doubled to £400 for all family members as well as the NHS-employed medics themselves. Representative of EveryDoctor Julia Patterson explained the NHS recruits from overseas but, when fully trained and experienced expat professional doctors arrive, they’re treated poorly and the charges leave them financially crippled. She adds the NHS simply can’t afford to lose the high number of doctors who’re now considering leaving.

One trainee GP from Malaysia, now located in Yorkshire, will need to find a total of £11,500 by August, if she finally decides to stay. Her own three-year visa will cost £4,200, with the advance-paid three-year IHN for her, her husband and their four children will set her back another £7,300. It’s no surprise that she’s considering uprooting her family and moving elsewhere. Out of the over 300,000 doctors on the UK’s General Medical Council register, just under one in three qualified in a non-EU country, three times more than the 32,468 working in the NHS after arriving from EEA countries.

A few NHS trusts do pay visa and IHS charges for expat doctors in order to encourage them not to leave, and a new NHS scheme aimed at tackling chronic shortages in the sector will be announced later this week. It’s intended to boost the NHS’s recent long-term strategy to increase the number of expat medical specialists arriving from overseas, but visa costs and IHS charges are likely to limit its success. One Nigerian doctor told the media he believes migrants are now just a cash cow regardless of their contributions to the UK and its citizens.
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