LONDON (Reuters) – The British government will loosen immigration rules to allow more doctors and nurses from outside the European Union to come and work for Britains National Health Service (NHS), the BBC and other national media reported on Thursday.
NHS managers have been complaining for a long time that an annual cap on the number of non-EU skilled workers who can immigrate to Britain was making it hard for them to fill positions.
The cap, introduced by Prime Minister Theresa May when she was interior minister, is currently set at 20,700 non-EU skilled workers per year. It was part of a broader effort by May to reduce immigration, in line with promises made to voters by the ruling Conservative Party.
Britains planned exit from the European Union is expected to result in restrictions on EU workers coming to the country, which could create further recruitment difficulties for the NHS.
The health service, which has relied on being able to recruit professionals from overseas for decades, currently has tens of thousands of vacancies.
Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Guy Faulconbridge