The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended that all medical roles should be added to the shortage occupation list (SOL), in its first full review of the list since 2013.
The committee has recommended broadening the SOL to include all roles in occupations such as medical practitioners, nurses, programmers and software development professionals. This recognises the increasing difficulty in filling such roles.
The MAC also recommends a review of what role the SOL would play in a future immigration system.
MAC chair, Professor Alan Manning, said: "Today’s labour market is very different to the one we reviewed when the last SOL was published in 2013. Unemployment is lower and employers in various industries are facing difficulties in finding skilled people to fill their vacancies.
"That is why we have recommended expanding the SOL to cover a range of occupations in health, information and engineering fields.
"However, our recommendations are clearly only applicable under the current immigration system, while EU free movement remains. We are recommending a full review of the SOL once there is a clearer picture of what the future immigration system will look like."
The review’s other recommendations include:
- Pilots to expand the evidence-base on what might work in migration policy for remote communities
- Removing the restriction on chef visas, which currently excludes those offering a takeaway service. This is in recognition of the changing nature of the hospitality sector and with the aim of future-proofing the list.
The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, the Royal College of Physicians of London and the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh have issued a joint statement following the publication of the report.
The statement says: “We welcome this report, and its recommendation that the category of medical practitioners is added to the shortage occupation list.
"This is a step in the right direction if we’re to begin to address the current NHS workforce shortages throughout the UK. What is also clear from this report, and the evidence submitted to it from a range of health sector bodies, is that workforce planning remains a critical issue for our health service, and that further urgent action is required from government if we’re to ensure that the NHS is sufficiently staffed to meet the demands of a twenty-first century service.”