Immigration visa cap could damage physio workforce

Government plans for a £30,000 earnings threshold on visa applications must be opposed, says CSP

CSP says visa restrictions will be bad for physiotherapy (image: shutterstock)

The CSP has joined nurses, doctors and managers in warning that the proposals for a £30,000 salary threshold on visa applications will bar physiotherapists and many health professionals from working in the UK.

 The CSP is part of the Cavendish Coalition which represents a UK-wide coalition across social care and health, bringing together employers and unions across the state, charitable and private sector.

They are calling on home secretary Sajid Javid to lower the threshold which was unveiled in the recent Immigration White Paper* so that it reflects the reality of pay and skills needs in health and social care.

Rob Yeldham, CSP director of policy, told Frontline: ‘Some 14% of registered physios are from outside the UK, and half of them are from Europe. We’re an active member of the Cavendish Coalition. We’re pleased the challenges for physiotherapy are reflected in the Coalition’s statement.

‘But we want to see the UK Government change the whole visa system. Physios and physio support workers should not be judged on economic criteria. Their value is in the improvements they make to the health and wellbeing of their patients. That is what the immigration system needs to recognise.’

And in a statement the Coalition said it was “extremely concerned whether the visa proposals... will encourage the numbers of care staff social care needs to sustain services".

They say the new immigration system must adjust skills and salary levels to ensure that health and social care provision can be properly staffed by the skilled care staff it needs.

‘While it is anticipated there may be some provisions for doctors and nurses coming to the UK after Brexit, this ignores physios, paramedics and other allied health professionals and there will be severe implications for the social care workforce in particular as well as outstanding concerns on doctor and nurse recruitment.’

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) welcomed the removal of the cap on highly skilled workers but agreed with the CSP that high salary thresholds on visas would harm recruitment.

With the starting salary for nurses currently around £23,000, a salary threshold above this could prevent nurses from other countries being recruited into the NHS, worsening the staffing crisis.

*The UK's future skills-based immigration system. Prepared by the Home Office and UK Visas and Immigration, December 2018.

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