Boris Johnson promises fast track 'NHS visa' for overseas doctors and nurses
LONDON Nov 9: Boris Johnson has unveiled plans for a fast track "NHS visa" to make it easier for overseas doctors and nurses to work. Ministers said the scheme would enable the health service to continue to attract the finest medical staff after Britain has left the EU. Labour accused the Tories of "tying themselves in knots" with the promise, which comes ahead of the general election on December 12. The opposition said the Conservatives are using "dog whistle anti-immigrant rhetoric" while trying to bring in migrant workers to keep public services working. Labour was focusing its campaign effort on measures to support women in the workplace, including raising statutory maternity pay and better entitlement to flexible working. The Conservatives' new NHS visa will ultimately form part of the party's planned points-based immigration system to be introduced after Brexit. The move reflects concern within the health service that it will struggle to attract the staff it needs when Britain is outside the EU. Under the scheme, the cost of a visa for health professionals would be halved from £928 to £464, while applicants would be guaranteed a decision within two weeks. Applicants coming to work in the NHS would receive preferential treatment with extra points under the points-based system, and no cap on numbers entering through the NHS route. They would also be able to pay back the cost of the immigration health surcharge through their salary if the charge is not already covered by the NHS trust offering the job. The Tories have already announced a fast-track visa route to attract specialists in science, engineering and technology.