Overseas doctors will no longer have to meet onerous visa and immigration restrictions to work in the NHS after being added to the UK’s Shortage Occupation List.

Doctors from all branches of practise as well as other medical professionals such as nurses, have been added to the UK’s shortage occupation list by the MAC (Migration Advisory Committee).

The “Full review of the Shortage Occupation List” noted that:

The most common response given in the call for evidence from the healthcare sector when asked about the reasons for labour shortages was that there is low number of applicants with required skills.  This was followed by too much competition from other employers and the off-putting nature of shift work and unsociable hours.

Overseas doctors wishing to practise in the NHS now have certain advantages in using Tier 2 (General) visas:

  • First, there is no need to pass the resident labour market test, i.e. to demonstrate that an attempt has been made to recruit domestically. Not having to undertake this is a saving for the employer in terms of vacancy advertising and recruitment
  • Second, roles on the SOL are prioritised if the Tier 2 (General) limit of 20,700 is reached3. Jobs on the SOL are automatically granted 320 points, a higher level of points than could possibly be achieved by occupations not on the SOL. In practice, this means that jobs on the SOL cannot be turned down when the cap
  • Third, there is no requirement to meet the £35,800 salary threshold required for settlement after five years. This requirement is waived if the job title has been on the SOL at any point in those five.

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