More Nigerian medical practitioners may leave the country as the United Kingdom yesterday announced new ‘Health and Care Visa’ policy to attract the best talents in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
The country, which has since the outbreak of COVID-19 stopped issuance of visa, opened the migration window for care professionals, social workers and their families, to bolster its National Health Service (NHS).
The new visa policy aims to make it cheaper, quicker and easier for healthcare professionals to come go to UK, beginning from August.
Findings show that UK is one of the leading destinations for migrating Nigerian health workers. Estimates have it that there are over 4000 Nigerian doctors in UK, spread across 83 sub-specialties.
Just recently, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos, intercepted 58 Nigerian doctors, who attempted travelling to UK without visa.
The 58 medical doctors were refused departure in line with Section 31 subsection 2a and b, on powers conferred on the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service by the Immigration Act 2015, to prohibit departure of any person under the conditions stated in the Act.
The doctors were said to be travelling for a training programme.
The UK Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care had on Tuesday announced that the new Health and Care Visa would be launched this summer, creating a new fast-track visa route for eligible health and care professionals and delivering on a key manifesto commitment.
According to details of the statement, it has been designed to make it easier and quicker for the best global health professionals to work in the NHS, for NHS commissioned service providers, and in eligible occupations in the social care sector.
It further said that the legislation needed to open this new route would be laid in Parliament and health professionals would be able to apply from August.
The UK government statement said that the new Health and Care Visa would come with a reduced visa application fee compared to that paid by other skilled workers, including exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge.
Health and care professionals applying on this route can also expect a decision on whether they can work in the UK within just three weeks, following biometric enrollment.
“Those working in health and social care, who do not qualify for the Health and Care Visa, will still be able to claim a reimbursement from the Immigration Health Surcharge, if they have paid this on or after March 31,” the statement added.