Friday, 13 March 2009

From the Record: Asking Edwina Hart about immigration rules and NHS recruitment

Leanne Wood: I have raised with you the recruitment problems of Cwm Taf NHS Trust, which resulted in the closure of some hospital wards over the Christmas period. The chief executive of the trust has told me that they have had difficulties in recruiting doctors, particularly from the Indian sub-continent, as a result of the recent tightening of immigration rules. Will you agree to raise this issue with the Minister of State for Borders and Immigration in the UK Government and call for a relaxation of the new rules so that more doctors can be recruited to work in Welsh hospitals?

Edwina Hart: There is no doubt that the change in immigration rules has had an impact on the availability of medical staff in Wales, particularly in the middle and lower-grade training positions that are key. This has made it difficult to ensure that all posts are filled. In fact, discussions are under way, under the auspices of the postgraduate deans, to establish a number of specific short-term training opportunities for overseas doctors. These are programmes that have been developed across the UK by the postgraduate deans in collaboration with the Home Office and the General Medical Council. The Welsh Assembly Government’s views are known by central Government, but I would be happy to take up the matter through the appropriate channels.

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