Home Office to scrap local deportation targets
NHS bosses say Indian doctors are being denied visas to work in the UK because of ‘hostile environment’
Home secretary Amber Rudd Credit: Parliament TV
The Home Office is to get rid of immigration enforcement targets that home secretary Amber Rudd denied even existed earlier this week, it has confirmed.
As pressure ratchets up on the department over the fallout from the “hostile environment” for immigration introduced when prime minister Theresa May was home secretary, NHS leaders have revealed hundreds of Indian doctors were denied visas to come and work in the UK in recent months.
On Wednesday, Rudd and Home Office director general for border immigration and citizenship Glynn Williams appeared before MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee to answer questions about the Windrush scandal that has seen long-term UK residents wrongly threatened with deportation under a crackdown on illegal immigration that began in 2014.
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Both Rudd and Williams told the committee that there were no targets for immigration removals – the deportation of people found to be in the UK illegally – only for leaked documents to expose the existence of “local” targets for “internal use”.
Faced with an urgent question in the House of Commons, Rudd responded by admitting: “The immigration arm of the Home Office has been using local targets for internal performance management. These were not published targets against which performance was assessed but if they were used inappropriately then I am clear that this will have to change.”
The Home Office confirmed to Civil Service World today that the targets would be dropped.
“The home secretary has asked the director general of Immigration enforcement to ensure that local teams do not continue the practice of using targets,” it said in a statement.
Separately, it emerged on Friday that NHS Employers – a body that represents HR professionals across the health service’s trusts and other organisations – has written to Rudd and health secretary Jeremy Hunt to complain about the refusal of visas for Indian doctors seeking temporary work in the UK under a longstanding programme that supplies junior doctors to hospitals in the North West.
The refusals stem from a cap on the number of “Tier 2” working visas that are required for skilled non-EU nationals and are thought to have prevented the at least 100 Indian doctors from coming to the UK to work, although the rules do not prevent them from reapplying.
Jon Rouse, chief officer at the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, told the BBC it was “almost impossible to understand” why the refusal decision was reached during a winter when the NHS had been “stretched to its very limits”.
He said the doctors denied visas would have worked across hospital services and said rotas would go unfilled because they had not been allowed into the country to work.
A Home Office spokesman told CSW that when demand exceeded the monthly available allocation of Tier 2 visas, priority was given to applicants filling a shortage of PhD-level occupations.
"The published shortage list, based on advice by the Migration Advisory Committee, includes a range of medical professionals, including consultants specialising in clinical radiology and emergency medicine, and we estimate that around a third of all Tier 2 places go to the NHS,” he said.
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