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Immigration and asylum NHS doctor banned from coming back to UK over visa mix-up
Specialist stranded abroad after Home Office decision, amid chronic shortage of doctors
An eye doctor has been stranded overseas and unable to resume his career in the NHS after the Home Office banned him from entering Britain over a visa mix-up.
The decision by the Home Office’s immigration department has been branded “inhumane” and prompted warnings it will worsen the NHS’s already serious shortage of doctors.
Dr Chan, who is 38 and does not want to reveal his first name or exact Asian country of origin, worked at Moorfields eye hospital, in London, between September 2017 and August this year. However, he left when he was offered his first post as a consultant ophthalmologist, at the Royal Berkshire hospital in Reading.
NHS doctor may leave UK over refusal of permission to remain for mother
He has been refused a new visa to allow him to re-enter the UK and take up that post after he made a small mistake in his application. He blames his error on “misleading and confusing advice” on the Home Office website for overseas nationals switching jobs in Britain.
His ban comes days after the NHS’s shortage of almost 10,000 doctors in England alone led to medics being added to the UK’s shortage occupation list of professionals that deserve priority in the receipt of working visas because the country has too few of them.
The health secretary, Matt Hancock, and the home secretary, Priti Patel, are being urged to look into the case and enable Chan to come back to Britain. It is the latest in a growing number of cases where the Home Office’s strict application of immigration rules has led to foreign-born NHS doctors being threatened with deportation or refused permission to work in the country.
Hancock recently intervened to ensure the Home Office withdrew its plan to deport the Taiwan-born but NHS-funded trainee GP Dr Mu-Chun Chiang, who, like Chan, had made a small error when applying for a new tier 2 working visa.
In a letter to both ministers, Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, the chair of the Doctors’ Association UK, said: “This [mix-up] has led to the disastrous situation where Dr Chan has been left with no right to re-enter the UK and remains stranded [abroad] whilst all his personal belongings and his home remain in the UK.
“The irony is, of course, that last week doctors were added to the shortage occupation list. Leaving Dr Chan stranded is not only inhumane but signals that our immigration policy is failing to recognise the contribution of this dedicated doctor to the NHS, and denying patients the care of a much-needed consultant.”
Research earlier this week showed that 43% of consultant posts in the NHS went unfilled across the UK last year because there were too few applicants to fill them.
At Moorfields, Chan specialised in the treatment of retinal conditions and the use of virtual reality to tackle eyesight problems. He is in his home country while he tries to persuade the Home Office to reverse the decision. He does not want to be fully identified for reasons of personal security.
“I feel anxious and let down. Although I do feel that by not being able to get a visa, I have been unable to start work and fill the need in the Royal Berkshire eye department, there were these Home Office circumstances and processes beyond my control,” Chan said.
“I read the guidance carefully. This event arose from misleading and inaccurate application information on the Home Office webpage. The simple thing the entry clearance officer should have done was to pick up the phone or send an email to clarify regarding the application. It would have saved a huge amount of wasted time, resources, and parties to try to salvage the situation.”
His problems began when he filled in a “new application” for a tier 2 visa on the Home Office website in error instead of completing the “change of employment” application section, because, he said, the website indicated that was what he should do.
The British Medical Association is also taking up Chan’s case with the Home Office.
The Home Office has been asked for its response.
- Immigration and asylum
- Home Office
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