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Government to relax immigration rules on overseas doctors

Thousands more overseas doctors will be able to come and work in the NHS after Theresa May heeded pleas from cabinet colleagues to scrap limits that hospital bosses had criticised as “absolutely barmy”.

The relaxation of immigration rules, which is due to be announced imminently, represents a victory for Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid and follows a vociferous campaign by NHS organisations and medical groups.

They have been arguing that medics should be taken out of the cap on skilled workers allowed to work in Britain, in order to help tackle the NHS’s deepening workforce crisis.

Hunt, the health and social care secretary, and Javid, the home secretary, have been privately lobbying the prime minister to ease restrictions that between November and April denied more than 2,300 doctors from outside the European Economic Area the chance to work in the NHS.

Under the current immigration system the number of non-EEA skilled workers of all sorts able to come and work in Britain on a tier-2 visa through a certificate of sponsorship is capped at 20,700 a year – a ceiling set by the Home Office.

However, the government has decided that the NHS’s need for more doctors is so great that they should be treated differently, well-placed sources have told the Guardian. The rethink should mean that doctors are no longer left unable to take up job offers from hospitals and GP surgeries because they cannot get a visa.

There will now be a separate system to decide which medics come.

Recent official figures show that the NHS in England alone is short of 9,982 doctors. Those refused tier-2 visas in recent months have included GPs, psychiatrists and cancer specialists, all of which have a significant number of vacancies.

Hospitals have said their inability to recruit doctors from outside the EEA would lead to patients facing longer waiting times for treatment and hit patient safety.

Andrew Foster, chief executive of the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS hospital trust recently condemned the “bonkers decision” to ban doctors whom the NHS desperately needed. “It’s absolutely barmy that one branch of government is trying to increase the capacity of the NHS and another branch is stopping it from doing so”, he said.

“Last year we got 60 doctors and we had no trouble with visas. This year, [during] the first two months we were denied all visas and in the latest round we have been successful in less than 10 cases out of the 100 [they had applied for].”

Hospitals have been unable to hire doctors they had identified as highly skilled and necessary recruits because the cap on the number of professionals given a visa has been reached in each of the last seven months.

The Home Office had made clear that if the rules were to change so they would operate differently in the third quarter of the year, which includes August, when newly-qualified young doctors start their NHS training, any relaxation of the policy had to be agreed by the end of this week.

It is unclear if nurses will also be taken out of the cap system. They are already classed as a shortage occupation by the Home Office’s migration advisory committee. As such some nurses have been deemed a greater priority than doctors in recent months when officials have been deciding who will get tier-2 visas.

Hunt has argued that doctors and nurses should be treated differently to other skilled migrants on a temporary basis, until increases in the numbers of homegrown staff he has instigated produce more British NHS staff.

“If reports that the cap will be lifted for doctors are true, it will be a welcome relief to trusts in addressing immediate staff shortages, to help ensure safe, high quality care,” said Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts in England.

“These visa restrictions have been a major obstacle to recruiting much-needed medical staff. For trusts it has resulted in unfilled vacancies, often filled by paying premium locum rates. For doctors, they may have given up on working in the NHS and decided to work in another country.”

Government to relax immigration rules on overseas doctors

Thousands more overseas doctors will be able to come and work in the NHS after Theresa May heeded pleas from cabinet colleagues to scrap limits that hospital bosses had criticised as “absolutely barmy”.

The relaxation of immigration rules, which is due to be announced imminently, represents a victory for Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid and follows a vociferous campaign by NHS organisations and medical groups.

They have been arguing that medics should be taken out of the cap on skilled workers allowed to work in Britain, in order to help tackle the NHS’s deepening workforce crisis.

Hunt, the health and social care secretary, and Javid, the home secretary, have been privately lobbying the prime minister to ease restrictions that between November and April denied more than 2,300 doctors from outside the European Economic Area the chance to work in the NHS.

Under the current immigration system the number of non-EEA skilled workers of all sorts able to come and work in Britain on a tier-2 visa through a certificate of sponsorship is capped at 20,700 a year – a ceiling set by the Home Office.

However, the government has decided that the NHS’s need for more doctors is so great that they should be treated differently, well-placed sources have told the Guardian. The rethink should mean that doctors are no longer left unable to take up job offers from hospitals and GP surgeries because they cannot get a visa.

There will now be a separate system to decide which medics come.

Recent official figures show that the NHS in England alone is short of 9,982 doctors. Those refused tier-2 visas in recent months have included GPs, psychiatrists and cancer specialists, all of which have a significant number of vacancies.

Hospitals have said their inability to recruit doctors from outside the EEA would lead to patients facing longer waiting times for treatment and hit patient safety.

Andrew Foster, chief executive of the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS hospital trust recently condemned the “bonkers decision” to ban doctors whom the NHS desperately needed. “It’s absolutely barmy that one branch of government is trying to increase the capacity of the NHS and another branch is stopping it from doing so”, he said.

“Last year we got 60 doctors and we had no trouble with visas. This year, [during] the first two months we were denied all visas and in the latest round we have been successful in less than 10 cases out of the 100 [they had applied for].”

Hospitals have been unable to hire doctors they had identified as highly skilled and necessary recruits because the cap on the number of professionals given a visa has been reached in each of the last seven months.

The Home Office had made clear that if the rules were to change so they would operate differently in the third quarter of the year, which includes August, when newly-qualified young doctors start their NHS training, any relaxation of the policy had to be agreed by the end of this week.

It is unclear if nurses will also be taken out of the cap system. They are already classed as a shortage occupation by the Home Office’s migration advisory committee. As such some nurses have been deemed a greater priority than doctors in recent months when officials have been deciding who will get tier-2 visas.

Hunt has argued that doctors and nurses should be treated differently to other skilled migrants on a temporary basis, until increases in the numbers of homegrown staff he has instigated produce more British NHS staff.

“If reports that the cap will be lifted for doctors are true, it will be a welcome relief to trusts in addressing immediate staff shortages, to help ensure safe, high quality care,” said Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts in England.

“These visa restrictions have been a major obstacle to recruiting much-needed medical staff. For trusts it has resulted in unfilled vacancies, often filled by paying premium locum rates. For doctors, they may have given up on working in the NHS and decided to work in another country.”

Government to relax immigration rules on overseas doctors

Thousands more overseas doctors will be able to come and work in the NHS after Theresa May heeded pleas from cabinet colleagues to scrap limits that hospital bosses had criticised as “absolutely barmy”.

The relaxation of immigration rules, which is due to be announced imminently, represents a victory for Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid and follows a vociferous campaign by NHS organisations and medical groups.

They have been arguing that medics should be taken out of the cap on skilled workers allowed to work in Britain, in order to help tackle the NHS’s deepening workforce crisis.

Hunt, the health and social care secretary, and Javid, the home secretary, have been privately lobbying the prime minister to ease restrictions that between November and April denied more than 2,300 doctors from outside the European Economic Area the chance to work in the NHS.

Under the current immigration system the number of non-EEA skilled workers of all sorts able to come and work in Britain on a tier-2 visa through a certificate of sponsorship is capped at 20,700 a year – a ceiling set by the Home Office.

However, the government has decided that the NHS’s need for more doctors is so great that they should be treated differently, well-placed sources have told the Guardian. The rethink should mean that doctors are no longer left unable to take up job offers from hospitals and GP surgeries because they cannot get a visa.

There will now be a separate system to decide which medics come.

Recent official figures show that the NHS in England alone is short of 9,982 doctors. Those refused tier-2 visas in recent months have included GPs, psychiatrists and cancer specialists, all of which have a significant number of vacancies.

Hospitals have said their inability to recruit doctors from outside the EEA would lead to patients facing longer waiting times for treatment and hit patient safety.

Andrew Foster, chief executive of the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS hospital trust recently condemned the “bonkers decision” to ban doctors whom the NHS desperately needed. “It’s absolutely barmy that one branch of government is trying to increase the capacity of the NHS and another branch is stopping it from doing so”, he said.

“Last year we got 60 doctors and we had no trouble with visas. This year, [during] the first two months we were denied all visas and in the latest round we have been successful in less than 10 cases out of the 100 [they had applied for].”

Hospitals have been unable to hire doctors they had identified as highly skilled and necessary recruits because the cap on the number of professionals given a visa has been reached in each of the last seven months.

The Home Office had made clear that if the rules were to change so they would operate differently in the third quarter of the year, which includes August, when newly-qualified young doctors start their NHS training, any relaxation of the policy had to be agreed by the end of this week.

It is unclear if nurses will also be taken out of the cap system. They are already classed as a shortage occupation by the Home Office’s migration advisory committee. As such some nurses have been deemed a greater priority than doctors in recent months when officials have been deciding who will get tier-2 visas.

Hunt has argued that doctors and nurses should be treated differently to other skilled migrants on a temporary basis, until increases in the numbers of homegrown staff he has instigated produce more British NHS staff.

“If reports that the cap will be lifted for doctors are true, it will be a welcome relief to trusts in addressing immediate staff shortages, to help ensure safe, high quality care,” said Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts in England.

“These visa restrictions have been a major obstacle to recruiting much-needed medical staff. For trusts it has resulted in unfilled vacancies, often filled by paying premium locum rates. For doctors, they may have given up on working in the NHS and decided to work in another country.”

Government to relax immigration rules on overseas doctors

Thousands more overseas doctors will be able to come and work in the NHS after Theresa May heeded pleas from cabinet colleagues to scrap limits that hospital bosses had criticised as “absolutely barmy”.

The relaxation of immigration rules, which is due to be announced imminently, represents a victory for Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid and follows a vociferous campaign by NHS organisations and medical groups.

They have been arguing that medics should be taken out of the cap on skilled workers allowed to work in Britain, in order to help tackle the NHS’s deepening workforce crisis.

Hunt, the health and social care secretary, and Javid, the home secretary, have been privately lobbying the prime minister to ease restrictions that between November and April denied more than 2,300 doctors from outside the European Economic Area the chance to work in the NHS.

Under the current immigration system the number of non-EEA skilled workers of all sorts able to come and work in Britain on a tier-2 visa through a certificate of sponsorship is capped at 20,700 a year – a ceiling set by the Home Office.

However, the government has decided that the NHS’s need for more doctors is so great that they should be treated differently, well-placed sources have told the Guardian. The rethink should mean that doctors are no longer left unable to take up job offers from hospitals and GP surgeries because they cannot get a visa.

There will now be a separate system to decide which medics come.

Recent official figures show that the NHS in England alone is short of 9,982 doctors. Those refused tier-2 visas in recent months have included GPs, psychiatrists and cancer specialists, all of which have a significant number of vacancies.

Hospitals have said their inability to recruit doctors from outside the EEA would lead to patients facing longer waiting times for treatment and hit patient safety.

Andrew Foster, chief executive of the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS hospital trust recently condemned the “bonkers decision” to ban doctors whom the NHS desperately needed. “It’s absolutely barmy that one branch of government is trying to increase the capacity of the NHS and another branch is stopping it from doing so”, he said.

“Last year we got 60 doctors and we had no trouble with visas. This year, [during] the first two months we were denied all visas and in the latest round we have been successful in less than 10 cases out of the 100 [they had applied for].”

Hospitals have been unable to hire doctors they had identified as highly skilled and necessary recruits because the cap on the number of professionals given a visa has been reached in each of the last seven months.

The Home Office had made clear that if the rules were to change so they would operate differently in the third quarter of the year, which includes August, when newly-qualified young doctors start their NHS training, any relaxation of the policy had to be agreed by the end of this week.

It is unclear if nurses will also be taken out of the cap system. They are already classed as a shortage occupation by the Home Office’s migration advisory committee. As such some nurses have been deemed a greater priority than doctors in recent months when officials have been deciding who will get tier-2 visas.

Hunt has argued that doctors and nurses should be treated differently to other skilled migrants on a temporary basis, until increases in the numbers of homegrown staff he has instigated produce more British NHS staff.

“If reports that the cap will be lifted for doctors are true, it will be a welcome relief to trusts in addressing immediate staff shortages, to help ensure safe, high quality care,” said Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts in England.

“These visa restrictions have been a major obstacle to recruiting much-needed medical staff. For trusts it has resulted in unfilled vacancies, often filled by paying premium locum rates. For doctors, they may have given up on working in the NHS and decided to work in another country.”

Government to relax immigration rules on overseas doctors

Thousands more overseas doctors will be able to come and work in the NHS after Theresa May heeded pleas from cabinet colleagues to scrap limits that hospital bosses had criticised as “absolutely barmy”.

The relaxation of immigration rules, which is due to be announced imminently, represents a victory for Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid and follows a vociferous campaign by NHS organisations and medical groups.

They have been arguing that medics should be taken out of the cap on skilled workers allowed to work in Britain, in order to help tackle the NHS’s deepening workforce crisis.

Hunt, the health and social care secretary, and Javid, the home secretary, have been privately lobbying the prime minister to ease restrictions that between November and April denied more than 2,300 doctors from outside the European Economic Area the chance to work in the NHS.

Under the current immigration system the number of non-EEA skilled workers of all sorts able to come and work in Britain on a tier-2 visa through a certificate of sponsorship is capped at 20,700 a year – a ceiling set by the Home Office.

However, the government has decided that the NHS’s need for more doctors is so great that they should be treated differently, well-placed sources have told the Guardian. The rethink should mean that doctors are no longer left unable to take up job offers from hospitals and GP surgeries because they cannot get a visa.

There will now be a separate system to decide which medics come.

Recent official figures show that the NHS in England alone is short of 9,982 doctors. Those refused tier-2 visas in recent months have included GPs, psychiatrists and cancer specialists, all of which have a significant number of vacancies.

Hospitals have said their inability to recruit doctors from outside the EEA would lead to patients facing longer waiting times for treatment and hit patient safety.

Andrew Foster, chief executive of the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS hospital trust recently condemned the “bonkers decision” to ban doctors whom the NHS desperately needed. “It’s absolutely barmy that one branch of government is trying to increase the capacity of the NHS and another branch is stopping it from doing so”, he said.

“Last year we got 60 doctors and we had no trouble with visas. This year, [during] the first two months we were denied all visas and in the latest round we have been successful in less than 10 cases out of the 100 [they had applied for].”

Hospitals have been unable to hire doctors they had identified as highly skilled and necessary recruits because the cap on the number of professionals given a visa has been reached in each of the last seven months.

The Home Office had made clear that if the rules were to change so they would operate differently in the third quarter of the year, which includes August, when newly-qualified young doctors start their NHS training, any relaxation of the policy had to be agreed by the end of this week.

It is unclear if nurses will also be taken out of the cap system. They are already classed as a shortage occupation by the Home Office’s migration advisory committee. As such some nurses have been deemed a greater priority than doctors in recent months when officials have been deciding who will get tier-2 visas.

Hunt has argued that doctors and nurses should be treated differently to other skilled migrants on a temporary basis, until increases in the numbers of homegrown staff he has instigated produce more British NHS staff.

“If reports that the cap will be lifted for doctors are true, it will be a welcome relief to trusts in addressing immediate staff shortages, to help ensure safe, high quality care,” said Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts in England.

“These visa restrictions have been a major obstacle to recruiting much-needed medical staff. For trusts it has resulted in unfilled vacancies, often filled by paying premium locum rates. For doctors, they may have given up on working in the NHS and decided to work in another country.”

Immigration officials to continue to seek NHS England patient data

Ministers have rejected a call from MPs to immediately suspend the disclosure of confidential NHS patient data to the Home Office to trace potential immigration offenders despite evidence it is deterring migrants in England from seeking medical help.

A joint letter from Home Office and health ministers to the chair of the Commons health select committee discloses that 1,297 requests for non-clinical details of patients, including home addresses, were made in the past three months by immigration officials trying to trace individuals with whom they had lost contact.

The letter from the immigration minister, Caroline Nokes, and the health minister, James O’Shaughnessy, accuses MPs on the committee of not giving “due weight” to the effective enforcement of Britain’s immigration laws when they called in January for the immediate suspension of the practice.

Dr Sarah Wollaston, the health committee chair, called for the suspension of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Home Office and NHS Digital after hearing evidence from doctors and patient groups that undocumented migrants, including pregnant women, were too afraid to go to a doctor for fear their details would be passed to immigration enforcement.

Lucy Jones, of Doctors of the World UK, said: “In our clinic we see the devastating impact of the policy of using NHS patient records to track down and arrest migrants on a daily basis. Only this morning our clinic team met urgently about the increase in vulnerable pregnant women too frightened to go to antenatal care appointments. Whilst patient information is being shared, we cannot reassure them confidentiality will be respected.”

The ministers’ letter, published by the committee on Wednesday, says such anecdotal evidence needs to be treated with caution and they have asked Public Health England (PHE) to establish the facts and report back by January 2019.

“However, we do not consider that, on the present state of the evidence, there is warrant for a significant change of approach – or specifically terminating the MoU and ending the important public interest function it serves.”

The ministers claim they are respecting patient confidentiality by not allowing the disclosure of medical information, and insist that not all those traced as a result of the data will face removal or deportation.

The letter discloses that 545 of the 1,297 requests for information made between November 2017 and January 2018 confirmed that the current address of the patient matched that on the immigration database.

In 501 cases NHS Digital provided a different address for the patient, “highlighting the value of this source of address information to the Home Office”. The NHS could not trace 248 cases from its records and three were recorded as having died.

“Even in cases where the address details for the individual are confirmed as the same the information is still of significant value; it provides confidence that the Home Office has the right basis for making further inquiries and can direct resources accordingly,” the letter says.

The ministers admit they hav no hard evidence of a “direct causal link” between the information provided and undocumented migrants leaving the UK. They do, however, promise to keep the data-sharing arrangement under review.

Deborah Gold, the chief executive of the National Aids Trust, said NAT would fight this “irresponsible decision”.

“I am dismayed to learn that in spite of the health committee’s recommendation, NHS Digital will continue this practice,” she said.

“Patient confidentiality must be protected. We believe that sharing data with the Home Office for immigration purposes scares people away from healthcare. As well as jeopardising the lives of individuals, this endangers public health, as those with infectious conditions avoid diagnosis and treatment and therefore remain contagious.”

Grenfell Tower survivors ‘must have total immigration amnesty’

The government will face calls this week to grant a complete amnesty and a permanent right to remain in the UK to undocumented residents of Grenfell Tower.

Volunteers working with survivors say concerns about their migration status are still preventing some from coming forward to seek help.

Councillors convening on Wednesday for the latest meeting of Chelsea and Kensington’s beleaguered council will be asked to vote on a motion calling on the government to go further than the temporary 12-month immigration “amnesty” for survivors, which was announced earlier this month by the Home Office.

The move comes as volunteer doctors working in the community affected by the fire said that they had noticed a fall-off in the number of people coming to the weekly clinics being run near to the tower.

“We have been doing outreach work but we have not had any patients coming to the last two clinics,” said Nick Harvey of Doctors of the World, a charity that runs clinics for undocumented migrants, victims of trafficking, asylum seekers and others.

“A lot of people seem to have gone under the radar. What we also seem to be seeing – even though Theresa May said that there would be no immigration checks on people who survived the fire – is a concern by some people about putting their name on to the NHS database, too. It’s something that people are afraid of.”

A spokesperson for the North Kensington Law Centre, which provides free and confidential legal advice to migrants in the community about their UK resident rights, said that it, too, was aware of Grenfell fire survivors who were concerned about their immigration status.

“Since the government announcement last week, we have come into contact with some people in this situation and, if there are more of them, we want them to have the confidence to come forward and speak to us,” he added.


These are people who have experienced the most traumatic thing in their lives – they should be granted an amnesty.

Robert Thompson

The motion before Kensington and Chelsea council, which is Conservative dominated, is being moved by Labour councillor Robert Thompson, who told the Observer: “It’s a motion that will put the Tory group at odds with their own government but it is something that they should do because national policy is still failing to take the situation on the ground into account.

“The main concerns relate to undocumented people not coming forward because of fears about their immigration status after 12 months.

“Firstly, that will have an impact on the world of the inquiry because you are potentially losing the number of eyewitnesses that could be there. Second, it’s about making sure that people are able to access the provisions that the government has put in place,” he said.

“Third, and this is the greatest issue, there is simply an argument in relation to compassion. These are people who have experienced what is likely to have been the most traumatic thing in their lives, whether they lost loved ones, or were affected in other ways, and they should be granted an amnesty.”

Another motion put forward by Labour councillor Judith Blakeman calls on the council’s cabinet to use some of its £250m-plus reserves to provide the widest choice of permanent rehousing options for survivors of the fire, including by buying back the lease on a development of 32 homes in order to use them as social housing.

It also calls for the designation of a number of other named developments for provision of homes and for a review of plans to regenerate all other estates and blocks in North Kensington immediately.

Immigration skills charge could hit health funding for years

A new immigration skills charge which comes into force on Thursday could take “desperately needed money” from the health service for years to come due to the service’s continuing reliance on foreign staff.

Employers will have to pay a £1,000 annual charge for skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area newly applying for the two main categories of Tier 2 visas. There were more than 6,000 such applications for non-EEA doctors and nurses in 2015 alone.

Smaller businesses and charities will pay a reduced charge of £364 per employee per year. The charge is on top of the fees already in place.

The employers of Tier 2 skilled visa holders who are already in the UK and those currently outside the UK who were assigned a certificate of sponsorship before today will not have to pay the charge.

The British Medical Association and Royal College of Nursing have raised concerns that the £1,000 annual charge could have a “damaging impact” on health and social care funding.

They jointly wrote to the home secretary in March expressing concern that the charges would take millions out of the NHS budget each year. However, their call that the NHS and the wider health and social care system be exempted from the charge has not led to a reversal in the government’s position.

BMA council chair Dr Mark Porter said it was “unthinkable” that trusts should be penalised for trying to fill staff shortages from overseas who it requires to maintain safe staffing levels and safe patient care.

“The government’s poor workforce planning has left it struggling to cope with huge and predictable staff shortages,” he said. “The introduction of this charge could take desperately needed money from an already under-funded health service, worsen the current staffing issues, and impact the level of care that hospitals are able to provide to patients.”

The chief executive of NHS Employers, Danny Mortimer said the immigration skills charge meant recruiting new non-EEA staff in future will become more expensive.

“Because of the workforce shortfalls faced by the NHS, and the time it takes to train new clinical staff, we anticipate employers will still need to recruit more non-EEA staff in the short to medium term,” he said.

Current exemptions only apply to PhD-level occupations and specific categories of trainee graduates and those switching from student visas to skilled work visas.

Detailed figures provided by the Home Office under the Freedom of Information Act show there were 87,280 applications for Tier 2 visas for non-EEA workers in the UK in 2015, an increase of 52% compared to 2011.

Among that figure there were 3,702 applications made on behalf of doctors, including consultants, specialists, GPs and surgeons. The highest number of these were Indian (820) and Pakistani (795) nationals.

3,702 doctors, including consultants, specialists, GPs and surgeons, applied for skilled visas in 2015

There were 2,535 applications for skilled visas for nurses in the same year, the majority of them from either the Philippines or India. A further 130 Croatian nationals also appear on the list of nationalities recruited as nurses due to restrictions on Croatian nationals’ access to the UK labour market.

There were 2,535 applications for skilled visas for nurses in the same year, the majority of them from either the Philippines or India.

Health is not the only industry that will be affected by the charge. The IT industry uses skilled visas more than any other: almost 35,000 tech professionals applied for Tier 2 visas in 2015, 40% of applications.

The vast majority of those who applied for positions in IT in 2015 were Indian citizens, almost 30,000 in total, followed by US citizens.

34,835 IT workers applied for skilled visas in the UK in 2015, up 71% on 2011

Programmers and developers are in highest demand with more than 12,300 applications for skilled visas while business analysts, architects and systems designers accounted for almost 10,500 applications within the sector.

Charlotte Holloway, policy director with techUK says that, while larger companies will be able to absorb the cost and additional bureaucracy the charge will bring, that the new charge was an extra burden on business which would disproportionately affect SMEs.

The business, research and administration sector also relies heavily on the visa scheme, making up 11% of skilled visa applications in 2015, most commonly for management consultants and business analysts and accountants.

In the same year almost 5,000 engineers applied for the skilled visa programme making it the third most reliant industry on non-EEA labour.

Other smaller industries such as speciality restaurants may also see an impact. There have been repeated warnings in recent years of a curry house crisis with the industry warning that a third of curry houses are at risk due to rising costs many of them connected to changes to immigration rules.

This is borne out in the figures provided by the Home Office. The number of non-EEA chefs and cooks applying for visas fell from 1,860 in 2013 to 745 in 2015.

Chart showing that the number of applications for non-EEA chefs and cooks fell from 1,860 in 2013 to 745 in 2015

A government spokesperson said income raised from the new immigration skills charge will be used to address skills gaps in the UK workforce.

“For too long there has been an under-investment in training for UK workers but this government is committed to building homegrown skills and wants to encourage employers to do the same.

“The introduction of the immigration skills charge will help encourage employers to invest in training so that UK workers have the right skills to fill jobs.”

Has your immigration status affected your care from the NHS?

Hundreds of pregnant women without legal status are avoiding seeking NHS antenatal care because of growing fears that they will be reported to the Home Office or face high medical bills, according to charities that work with vulnerable migrant women.

The Guardian has seen letters from one NHS trust sent to women with complex asylum claims warning they will have their antenatal care cancelled if they fail to bring credit cards to pay fees of more than £5,000 for maternity care. These letters contravene NHS guidelines, which state that maternity care should never be denied.

We’re interested in hearing from other undocumented migrants or people with a complex asylum situation about their difficulties with accessing NHS care.

Please share your experiences in the form below. We understand that this is a sensitive issue and you can respond anonymously if you prefer. We will do our best to keep your responses secure. We will contact you before we publish your responses.

Please share your experiences in the form below and we’ll use a selection in our reporting. We understand that this is a sensitive issue and you can respond anonymously if you prefer. Please do not include any information that you would not want to be published. We will contact you before we publish your responses.

May offers no guarantee on immigration and NHS Brexit pledges

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Prime minister declines to guarantee points-based system and extra £100m a week for health service as Japan and US warn of exit risks to Britain

Theresa May has cast doubt on whether Brexit will lead either to a points-based immigration system or an extra £100m a week for the NHS – two central promises made by the successful campaign to leave the European Union.

The prime minister declined to endorse pledges made by the official Vote Leave group as she headed to China for the G20 summit, where Japan and the US have issued strong warnings about the consequences of exiting the EU.

Related: Britain cannot easily dismiss Japanese Brexit warning letter

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