The NHS will no longer employ doctors from overseas. Too many British doctors have been trained, which has lead to a high demand for places.
Since the NHS has been sustained for so long by migrant workers, clearly there are moral debates to be had: Do we owe anything to overseas doctors who have worked here before? There are also administrative issues too: Where does this leave the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme? However, there are also second order issues, the problems we may not feel for a generation to come.
It is often said that the UK, above other countries, enjoys a good reputation around the world. We are said to enjoy “good links” with other countries, especially the Commonwealth, made up for the most part of former colonies. We know that these good links are embodied not just in formal institutions, aid, and preferential trade agreements, but on the personal level too. Our large immigrant population, with family back in India or South Africa or wherever, form a multitude of individual ties which together forge a strong, enmeshed bond between to countries. We have an army of millions of people around the world, who have worked in the UK at some point in our lives. They are a million secret agents, sleeper cells in their own communities, who will stand up and defend our interests and our reputation when required. This latest decision by the Home Office is the first step in the disbanding of that multicultural regiment, and it will hurt us in the long run. It is another steo away from an open, Internationalist approach that has stood is in such good stead for so long. Let us hope these measures are not extended to other professions too.