The Border and Immigration Agency (BIA), part of the UK Home Office, is cutting 38 healthcare-related occupations from the national ‘shortage occupation’ list for work permits, effective from 18 March 2008.
But as one leading Doctor reveals that there are severe staff shortages at St Mary’s hospital in London, Immigration Matters asks: have they got it right?
The affected occupations (see below) includes Doctors, Dentists, Nurses and Midwives.
The BIA say the changes follows research conducted by the NHS workforce review team on behalf of the Department of Health:
The team reviewed all current healthcare occupations included on the list in light of the latest labour market research and skills needed in the healthcare sector. The review covered the whole of the United Kingdom and involved discussions with relevant key stakeholders in both the public and private sectors. The recommendations of the review were discussed and agreed by the Healthcare Sector Advisory Panel.
Work permit applications received for the listed posts on or after 18 March 2008 will be subject to a full resident labour market test. Work permits will still be issued for these occupations if, following advertising, no suitably qualified resident candidate has been found.
The BIA’s announcement seems to fly in the face of a number recent reports indicating that the NHS is struggling to maintain standards due to a lack of staff, and in particular that there is a severe shortage in one of the occupations being removed: Midwives.
An article in today’s Evening Standard reports the shortage of Midwives is putting “new mothers in danger”.
The story reports that Professor Regan, a leading doctor at a top London maternity hospital, warns that the lives of mothers and babies are being put at risk because of a shortage of Midwives. She said:
“Many of the Midwives here find it frightening when they see the staffing levels are not optimal and corners are having to be cut to try and give a reasonable amount of care to every woman.
“There are a lot of near misses and I don’t think that we can do an awful lot more about it apart from analysing why they have occurred and trying to put in the infrastructure to ensure the problem doesn’t happen again.”
Professor Regan said her experience at was not unique St Mary’s.
“My comments reflect a problem across the UK. In most units it’s common for a midwife to be looking after two women, sometimes three. Women should have one-to-one care.”
Professor Regan added:
“We should address the chronic underfunding. You can’t overspend in maternity.”
London and the South-East are among the worst affected areas. Nationwide, the number of midwives in Britain has fallen by 25 per cent in the last 12 years, from 45,000 to 33,600 last year.
In London 15 per cent of midwife posts are vacant and in the South-East it is 10 per cent, the highest in the country.
Dame Karlene Davis, General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives said that the figures were “alarming” and estimates that Britain urgently needs 10,000 more midwives to bring the service to acceptable levels.
“In other parts of the NHS the ‘crisis’ is cash but in maternity care it’s bodies,” said added.
You can read the BIA announcement in full at: http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk
Occupations to be removed from the list of national shortage occupations
The following occupations will be removed from the list from 18 March 2008:
Consultants in dental specialities (except consultants and specialists in paediatric dentistry, which remain on the list).
Consultant posts in the following specialist areas:
· accident and emergency;
· additional dental specialities;
· cardiothoracic surgery;
· clinical radiology;
· endocrinology and diabetes mellitus;
· general internal medicine;
· general surgery;
· infectious diseases;
· medical oncology;
· obstetrics and gynaecology;
· paediatric cardiology;
· palliative medicine;
· public health medicine;
· respiratory medicine;
· trauma and orthopaedic surgery; and
General medical occupations:
· biomedical scientist or medical laboratory scientific officer;
· occupational therapists;
· pre-registration cytogeneticists; and
· speech and language therapists (employed at Agenda for Change band 5 or 6, or independent sector equivalents).
Not all nursing occupations are being removed from the list. The details below set out those we are removing and those that remain on the list.
The following nursing occupations are being removed from the list:
- midwives; and
- sleep or respiratory physiology;
- cardiac physiology;
- clinical radiology; and
The list of shortage occupations still includes registered nurses employed at bands 7 and 8 or their independent sector equivalents and registered nurses employed in the following specialties:
· operating theatre nurse; and
critical care nurse (Level 2 or Level 3 classification).