Visa Reforms Threaten Junior Doctor Training


The BMA has called for urgent help for overseas junior doctors who graduated from UK medical schools and are now facing problems completing specialty training due to changes in visa requirements.

This year the tier-1 (post-study work) visa route that allowed graduates to compete fairly with their fellow UK graduates for ST (specialty training) programmes was removed. An exemption was offered from the RLMT (resident labour market test), which says doctors born overseas can only apply for posts if there are no suitable UK or EEA (European Economic Area) candidates.

The replacement rules mean that these graduates can only be exempt from the RLMT if they are continuing in the same specialty with the same employer or sponsor.

The BMA claims that UK-trained overseas graduates who did not go straight into core training or ST from the foundation programme based their career decisions on incomplete information.

“This represents a huge loss of skill and a waste of taxpayers’ money to partially train a doctor and then move the goalposts so they cannot complete training,” said BMA junior doctors committee chair Dr Ben Molyneux.

“We have lobbied the Department of Health and the UKBA to exempt doctors in this situation until [individuals] currently in core training have passed into higher specialty training, but this has fallen on unwilling ears.”