Immigration salary changes could boost NHS recruitment

Author: Mark Gould

Recruitment of health and social care workers from outside the European Union (EU) could be boosted following reports that the government is set to drop the salary threshold for some migrants.

Currently skilled workers from outside the EU need to have a job offer with a minimum salary of £30,000. But the BBC reports that prime minister Boris Johnson and home secretary Priti Patel plan to lower the threshold to £25,000.

Campaigners have long argued that the current threshold blocks key workers such as nurses, physiotherapists and other health and social care professions from working in the UK.

A Cabinet meeting on Friday will also discuss other options to boost immigration. Workers earning less might still be able to make up “points” to get a visa to work in the UK if they work in a sector with a skills shortage. Speaking good English or having a strong educational background could also count towards getting a visa.

Last month a union said putting up barriers to hiring staff from overseas in an overhaul of the immigration system would cause “huge difficulties” in social care.

Unison’s assistant general secretary, Christina McAnea, said the UK’s immigration system had “got to work for social care” but the latest recommendations would not “allow a single care worker to come to the UK”.

The government’s migration advisory committee said the proposals were “not perfect” and there were “unavoidable, difficult trade-offs”, adding: “The largest impacts will be in low-wage sectors and the government needs to be clear about its plans for lower-skilled work migration.”

McAnea said: “The sector is already in crisis. Placing barriers to recruitment from overseas would cause it huge difficulties. Nor would the government’s idea of a one-year visa be any better. By the time care staff have arrived and settled into their jobs, it’d be time for them to leave.

“All their experience and training would be lost, and migrant workers would face uncertainty and instability. The elderly and vulnerable people they support would also be left anxious and have their care disrupted.”

Johnson promised during the election campaign to introduce a points-based immigration.