International doctors need support and security, not more red tape

The Royal College of GPs has responded to NHS England’s announcement that the Visa Support Service is closing. International Medical Graduates will need to deal directly with the Home Office if they have visa queries. RCGP Vice Chair Dr Victoria Tzortziou-Brown said:

“We are extremely disappointed and concerned at the closure of this service, which has provided important support over the last few years.  

“Our International Medical Graduates make an incredible contribution to the care of patients in general practice and the wider NHS. We should be giving them all the support and security they need, not bringing in changes that have the potential to make processes more challenging - with the associated anxiety and confusion that this may bring for the doctors who are impacted and their families. 

“We will be raising our concerns with MPs and asking for reassurance from the Home Office that cases will be dealt with speedily and efficiently. 

“It is also more important than ever that a wider solution is found to allow recently qualified GPs to obtain long-term visas to remain working in the UK, as set out in our General Election manifesto ‘Seven Steps to Save General Practice and Safeguard our NHS’.

“Unlike with other medical specialities with five-year training schemes, international doctors are not able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after they finish their three-year GP training course in the UK, and instead they must find short-term sponsorship from an individual practice with a licence. The recently introduced four-month visa ‘grace period’ for newly qualified GPs to apply for these visas after they finish training is welcome, but it does not go far enough. 

“We are calling for the Home Office to revise current rules to allow GPs the right to apply for ILR after three years in the UK, or a five-year visa at the start of their training.”

Further information

RCGP press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editors

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.