• Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals Trust told by HEE in July 28 doctors would not be able to start as expected in August
  • Chief executive suggests the significant increase in applications has contributed
  • Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust also experiencing delays in international doctors starting

Non-EU doctors have been delayed starting their new jobs in the UK because of changes to immigration rules, HSJ has learned.

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals Trust was told by Health Education England in July that 28 international doctors in training would not be able to start as expected on 1 August. It was established after contacting the applicants that 16 were not able to join the trust in time to start the new medical year, the trust confirmed.

The trust’s chief executive Chris Long said: “We appreciate a significant increase in applications combined with the lifting of restrictions on doctors in training from outside the EU meant some were not processed in time to start working at some trusts.”

“As it stands, we are now waiting on 13 applications to be processed by HEE and UK Visa and Immigration,” Mr Long said.

Andrew Foster, chief executive of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust told HSJ his trust was also experiencing delays in doctors starting their posts.

Mr Foster said the new international intake – which was approximately 90 doctors – would mostly be arriving in November rather than July and August as in previous years.

He added that the trust has lost some candidates because of the “repeated visa refusals and consequent delays”.

Health Education England told HSJ it was aware that some new starters were delayed due to changes in immigration rules in July. The training body added it has been working with employers to “notify them of late starters so they can plan accordingly”.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said the organisation was “delighted” that applications for certificates on sponsorship for doctors and nurses were to be removed from the cap from July 2018.

“The timing of the significant decision carried the risk that some doctors due to start work in the major August training intake would not get their visa and other clearances in time,” Mr Mortimer said.

“In the months running up to the rule change we know that some individuals walked away from job offers, leaving employers to start the recruitment process from scratch.”

HSJ reported in June that the government was to scrap the tier 2 visa cap for doctors and nurses. The cap was widely criticised by healthcare leaders who branded it “not logical” and suggested it could affect patient care due to staff shortages.