Immigration curbs will be a ‘disaster’ for NHS and patient waiting lists

Home secretary James Cleverley announced measures to decrease immigration, raising the minimum salary for overseas professionals

Published: 05 December 2023 Government & NHS

The Society of Radiographers has warned the government’s newest measures to curb immigration will have a negative impact on UK health services and exacerbate patient waiting lists.

Home secretary and Conservative MP James Cleverley announced that from next spring, the government will increase the earning threshold for overseas workers by nearly 50 per cent from its current position of £26,200 to £38,700.

According to the government around 300,000 people who came to the UK last year would not be eligible to move to the country from next year. 

These measures also tighten the Health and Care visa by preventing overseas care workers from bringing their dependants to the UK.

'Contradictory and self-defeating'

Dean Rogers, director of industrial strategy for the Society of Radiographers, said the package was “contradictory and self-defeating.”

Mr Rogers explained there is “pressing shortage” of radiographers available to conduct X-rays, MRI and CT scans, or provide radiotherapy services.

“We desperately need to compete in a global market for skilled professionals in shortage areas,” he added. “Telling potential overseas recruits that their family can’t join them – especially in a profession that is three-quarters female – is therefore entirely self-defeating. We will continue to struggle to recruit enough radiographers; NHS waiting lists will continue to rise.”

Mr Rogers criticised the decision not to allow in immigrants’ families as “especially perverse” because the proposed minimum salary of £38,000 for immigrants will preclude radiographers at the start of their careers, and therefore those with fewer dependants, from coming over.

The salary for an entry-level Band 5 radiographer in England is £28,407 – significantly lower than the £38,000 required.

'Our patients deserve better'

Mr Rogers said: “Aside from barring foreign entrants to the workforce, the new minimum salary is also likely to deter British students from training to become radiographers. Numbers of radiography students are already dropping – why would anyone choose to go into a profession that pays 30 per cent less than the government thinks is necessary for a new migrant?

“The government’s Autumn Statement suggested that it was serious about creating a long-term plan for the NHS workforce. Yet this new proposal undermines it before it’s even begun. Our members deserve better. Our patients deserve better.”

Mr Cleverly said: “It is clear that net migration remains far too high. By leaving the European Union we gained control over who can come to the UK, but far more must be done to bring those numbers down so British workers are not undercut and our public services put under less strain.

“My plan will deliver the biggest ever reduction in net migration and will mean around 300,000 people who came to the UK last year would not have been able to do so. I am taking decisive action to halt the drastic rise in our work visa routes and crack down on those who seek to take advantage of our hospitality.”

Those coming on the Health and Care Worker visa route, which permits doctors, nurses, health professionals or adult social care professionals working in an eligible health or social care job to immigrate to the UK, will be exempt from the increase to the salary threshold for Skilled Worker visas.

Workers on national pay scales, for example teachers, will also be exempt.

The government will also increase the annual Immigration Health Surcharge from £624 to £1,035.

(Image: James Cleverley MP, via