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Immigration laws ‘eased’ to plug NHS doctor gaps

IMMIGRATION rules are to be eased to allow more foreign doctors to work in the NHS, it has been reported.

The current limit of 1,500 non-EU doctors allowed in each year could be doubled to 3,000 under plans agreed by ministers, according to The Guardian.

EU-trained doctors could also be allowed to work for three years instead of two under changes to the medical training initiative to tackle shortages.

There are 9,337 doctor vacancies according to the latest NHS figures. Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, told the newspaper: ‘There are huge workforce shortages across the NHS, and we will need to rely on international doctors to help us deliver services, to complement our homegrown talent and the expansion of medical schools.’

The move comes as net migration from outside the EU hit its highest level in 14 years — but the figure from within the EU continued to fall. Nearly 250,000 more non-EU nationals arrived than left in the year to June, according to the Office for National Statistics.

In contrast, a ‘Brexodus’ saw 145,000 EU nationals leave — up 18 per cent — while just 219,000 moved here, the lowest figure since 2012, giving a net migration total of 74,000.

Overall, net long-term migration — the difference between the numbers arriving and leaving for at least 12 months — was 273,000.

Separate Home Office figures show 32 per cent more EU nationals (43,545) applied for British citizenship.

THE UK and US have agreed a new ‘open skies’ deal for post-Brexit flights, transport secretary Chris Grayling has announced. The arrangement ensures airlines will enjoy the same access they have now under the US-EU open skies treaty. The deal is one of nine, along with Albania, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Kosovo, Montenegro, Morocco and Switzerland. Canadian talks are at ‘an advanced stage’, the Department for Transport said.