Over 143,000 Nigerians, including doctors moved to UK in nine months – Report

New Conservatives group on the Tory Right in the United Kingdom has called for ministers to close temporary visa schemes for care workers as part of an effort to slash net migration before the presidential election scheduled for next year.

The group, said to be backed by former Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, and former UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, noted that the country could no longer contain the number of migrants flooding the UK by the day.

The latest statistics indicate that 1.279 million more people have come to the UK than have exited in the last two years.

This, it was noted, has put a lot of pressure on accommodation and amenities in the past month, raising concerns among Britons.

In a recent interview, the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said net migration levels are indeed “too high” after one of his senior ministers said it was “unacceptable” that there were a record number of arrivals last year.

 Net migration into the UK peaked at 745,000 in 2022, which is a record high according to revised estimates published by the Office for National Statistics on Thursday.

The data places migration levels at three times higher than before Brexit, despite a Conservative Party 2019 manifesto pledge to bring overall numbers down.

The National Health Service Trusts, on Friday, also stated that it had now become unsustainable to prop up social care with workers on visas.

The Home Office, the UK’s migration department, on Thursday, noted that 143,990 health and care worker visas were granted in the year ending September 2023.

This is more than double the 61,274 for the year to September 2022.

The top three nationalities, according to the Home Office, on these visas are Indians, Nigerians and Zimbabweans.

Nigeria has the most significant percentage increase behind Zimbabwe at 169 per cent and India, with 76 per cent.

In terms of dependents granted health and care work visas, Nigeria spiked by 329 per cent from 10,533 to 45,203.

The increase in the number of healthcare workers migrating to the UK is attributed to its cheap and easy entry migration conditions as the country faces a shortage of healthcare workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of March 2023, the number of Nigerian-trained doctors practising in the UK climbed to 11,001, according to findings by Saturday PUNCH.

This has created an unprecedented rise in non-EU immigration to the UK, mainly driven by migrants coming for work on health and care visas, according to the statistics.

Statistics also showed that health and care work visas were the most common type of work visa on which dependents came to the UK, and are driving the increase in immigration of those on work-dependant visas.

The 143,990 figure is just for main visa applicants and does not include dependants, which can grow from two per person to nine, or even ten, including extended family members.

In the temporary visa scheme, medical professionals can come to, or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with the NHS, an NHS supplier, or in adult social care, on a health and care worker visa.

Visas last for up to five years and can be extended, while partners and children can also apply to join as the main applicant’s ‘dependants’.

‘UK’s NHS understaffed’

Meanwhile, NHS Providers which represents trusts in England has said the “understaffed health and social care system relies on the contribution of highly valued staff from overseas to keep it going”, according to a report by the UK newspaper, The Standard.

They warned that this alone is not enough, saying the domestic workforce must be given a “turbo-boost” in order to create a “sustainable, diverse, and skilled workforce for the future”.

The Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, Dr Madeleine Sumption, said the long-term solution to shortages in the care workforce is better investment in the sector and higher pay for staff, rather than a continued reliance on workers coming from abroad.

She said, “In the long run, the solution to the problems in care is not necessarily extremely high levels of care worker migration permanently, the solution is likely to involve funding the care sector so that people in the UK are willing to do the jobs.

“And I think part of the challenge the government faces is that people are coming into care and it’s really helping care employers and they’re able to provide care that they weren’t able to provide a couple of years ago and that’s having a benefit in the short run.

“But in the long run, solving the problem and actually addressing the challenge of recruitment in the care sector is really expensive, because it involves paying people enough to persuade them to do the job,” she said.

NHS Providers chief executive, Sir Julian Hartley, on his part, said, “Our understaffed health and social care system relies on the contribution of highly valued staff from overseas to keep it going. But this isn’t sustainable.

“With more than 125,000 vacancies across the NHS in England and around 150,000 in social care, we can’t keep relying on international recruitment to plug these huge gaps.”

(Punch)

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