‘Cruel’ curbs on migrant care workers seen as disaster for NHS
Ban on bringing family members will discourage migrants, adding to workforce shortages in social care and piling pressure on an overburdened NHS, say critics
Banning overseas care workers from bringing their family to the UK will be a ‘total disaster’ for the NHS and social care, unions have said.
Home secretary James Cleverly unveiled a catalogue of measures to curb record net migration levels, including a ban on care workers bringing their dependents with them. The health surcharge, a fee migrants must pay to use the NHS, will also be increased by 66% from £624 to £1,035.
Mr Cleverly also set out plans to raise the salary threshold for a skilled worker visa to the UK to £38,700, almost 50% higher than the current threshold of £26,200. However, health and social care visas will be exempt.
‘Enough is enough. We are curbing abuses to the health care visa,’ he told the Commons, saying the measures would bring migration levels down by 300,000.
UK must be open to ethical international recruitment and raise investment in nursing education, says RCN
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea accused the government of playing roulette with essential services. she said: ‘These cruel plans spell total disaster for the NHS and social care. They benefit no one.
‘Migrant workers were encouraged to come here because both sectors are critically short of staff. Migrants will now head to more welcoming countries rather than be forced to live without their families.’
RCN director of nursing Nicola Ranger said: ‘This cruel sanction will deter care workers from coming to the UK, adding to dire workforce shortages in social care and ultimately piling even more pressure on an overburdened NHS.
‘Faced with such significant staff shortages, we must be open to ethical international recruitment while significantly increasing investment in domestic nursing education.’
International recruitment will continue to play a key role in the NHS’s future, says NHS Providers
NHS Providers director of policy and strategy Miriam Deakin said the government’s own NHS Long Term Workforce Plan makes it clear that international recruitment will continue to play a key role in the NHS’s future.
‘With over 120,000 staff shortages in the NHS and over 150,000 in social care, measures that deter people from joining these professions are deeply concerning,’ she said.
‘We therefore need the health and care sectors to remain attractive not only to domestic workers but also to those educated internationally.’
The cost of applying for a health and social care visa has already been increased, sparking warnings the visas would be unaffordable for overseas healthcare staff.
As from 4 October, the cost of applying for a health and care visa rose by 15%, taking the total for staff who intend to work in the UK for more than three years to £551.
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