Further visa extension for overseas pharmacists announced

RPS president Sandra Gidley: Review needed of missed visa deadlines

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Sandra Gidley has welcomed the Government's decision today to extend the visas of thousands more overseas health workers including pharmacists but urged ministers to review cases where individuals missed the original deadline for the extension.

The visas of over 6,000 health workers including doctors, pharmacists, nurses and paramedics and their families will be extended for free for 12 months under plans laid out by the Home Office to continue fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

Home secretary Priti Patel said workers whose visas' expiration falls between October 1 this year and March 31 2021 will be eligible for the extension once they have completed an online form.

The Government had announced earlier this year that extensions would be offered to health professionals whose visas were due to expire between March 31 and October 1 this year.

“We recognise the huge contribution healthcare professionals from overseas are making across the UK in fighting the devastating impact of coronavirus,” Patel said.

“We truly value the work these heroes are doing, which is why we’re renewing our free 12-month visa extension offer. We estimate this will benefit a further 6,000 dedicated front-line workers and their families who deserve our support and our gratitude.”

Insisting it was “only right” that the government recognises the “amazing contribution overseas pharmacists have made during the pandemic,” Ms Gidley said: “It’s vital that the workforce is retained and supported so that teams can continue to provide patient care during and beyond the second wave of the pandemic.

“We’d like to see a review of cases where pharmacists have missed the window since October. To avoid this situation in the future, the policy should be reviewed in good time ahead of the new deadline in March.”

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