The United Kingdom has announced plans to expand the health and care visa scheme for the recruitment of persons interested in offering services as care workers.
The development was disclosed in a statement issued on Friday by the Department of Health and Social Care.
The health and care worker visa, unveiled in August 2020, offers opportunities for medical professionals “to come to or stay in the UK to work with the NHS, an NHS supplier or in adult social care”.
Other benefits of the scheme include a 50 percent reduction in visa fee, faster processing, and exemption from immigration health surcharge.
According to the statement, the offer is open to the following job titles: “care assistant, care worker, carer, home care assistant, home carer and support worker (nursing home)”.
The UK said the decision was taken as part of efforts to address challenges brought on by the COVID pandemic.
“Thousands of additional care workers could be recruited to boost the adult social care workforce following temporary changes to the health and care visa to make social care workers, care assistants and home care workers eligible for a 12-month period. This will make it quicker, cheaper and easier for social care employers to recruit eligible workers to fill vital gaps,” the statement reads.
“The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted a range of staff shortages within the social care sector, placing pressures on the existing workforce, despite the incredible and tireless efforts of social care staff.
“This boost follows the recommendation from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to make care workers and home carers eligible for the Health and Care visa and add the occupation to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL).
“Inclusion on the Shortage Occupation List will stipulate an annual salary minimum of £20,480 for carers to qualify for the Health and Care visa. The UK is committed to becoming a high-skilled, high-wage economy and minimum salaries must reflect the professional skills that are required to provide quality care. The Health and Care visa will allow applicants and their dependents to benefit from fast-track processing, dedicated resources in processing applications and reduced visa fees.
“The temporary measures are expected to come into effect early next year and will be in place for a minimum of 12 months, providing a much-needed staffing boost while the sector deals with the additional pressures of the pandemic, at which point they will be reviewed.”
Speaking on the development, Sajid Javid, UK health and social care secretary, said the recruitment will boost the country’s efforts to effectively tackle the pandemic.
“It is vital we continue to do all we can to protect the social care sector during the pandemic and beyond. These measures, together with the series of support packages announced since September, will help us ensure short term sustainability and success for our long-term vision to build social care back better,” Javid said.
On her part, Priti Patel, home secretary, said the recruitment will relieve the pressure experienced in the UK health sector as a result of COVID.
“The care sector is experiencing unprecedented challenges prompted by the pandemic and the changes we’ve made to the health and care visa will bolster the workforce and helping alleviate some of the pressures currently being experienced,” she said.
“This is our New Plan for Immigration in action, delivering our commitment to support the NHS and the wider health and care sector by making it easier for health professionals to live and work in the UK.”
Successful applicants will also be allowed to bring their dependents “including partners and children”.