Fewer Central and East European people arriving in UK but hospitals launch recruitment drive for junior doctors overseas

by Ray Clancy on June 3, 2010

The expat population in the UK is changing with fewer people arriving from Central and Eastern Europe while the new coalition government is set to introduce a cap on non European Union immigration.

Figures from the Homes Office show that more European migrants from Poland, Czech Republic and other East European countries are leaving the UK than arriving. It is the first reversal in movement since large-scale immigration in Europe began.

In 2009, there were 45,000 arrivals from Central and Eastern European countries of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia compared with 57,000 departures.

Overall, the UK net migration figure for the year ending September 2009 was down with the country only growing by 142,000, down from 160,000 for the previous year, the figures also show.

The new Coalition government has yet to set out what its new immigration policy will be. UK Immigration Minister Damian Green said that the new measures will include a limit on work permits, actions on marriage and an effective system of regulating overseas students.

But in some areas the country is desperate to attract expats from overseas. The NHS is currently trying to recruit junior doctors from India to fill the shortages of doctors needed to start work in hospitals this August.

Tighter rules introduced in recent years have meant many expat doctors left Britain and returned home. New European regulations limiting the hours doctors can work has increased the number needed. The European Working Time Directive introduced into the NHS last August limits doctors to working only 48 hours per week and some hospitals have found it difficult to attract enough staff to fill gaps on rotas.

The Department of Health said it is working with UKBA, the UK Border Agency, to ensure the immigration system strikes a balance between providing valuable training opportunities for foreign doctors without preventing UK trained doctors from progressing in their careers.

There are also shortages of pharmacists in the UK.

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