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In a bid to make it easier to recruit foreign workers in key health and care roles, the government has added pharmacists, among other roles, to the Shortage Occupation List, the Home Office has announced on Thursday (March 4).

Commenting on the news, Helga Mangion, policy manager at the National Pharmacy Association, said: “Like all pharmacy sectors, community pharmacy has been facing a workforce shortage in recent years, although it is geographically variable. Giving pharmacy owners the flexibility to recruit from abroad is welcome news. We have been working with the Migration Advisory Committee over the last year to recognise the need for having pharmacists on the Shortage Occupation List and we are pleased that this has finally materialised.”

According to the changes made to the immigration rules, alongside pharmacists, the roles of laboratory technicians, senior care workers and nursing assistants have also been added to the List, giving people in these roles an advantage in obtaining a skilled worker visa..

“Every year we welcome healthcare workers from across the world to our United Kingdom, with many having played a key role on the frontline of the NHS during the recent pandemic,” Minister for Future Borders and Immigration Kevin Foster said.

“This latest set of changes, combined with our Health and Care Visa, will ensure they can easily get the immigration status they deserve.”

The government said the changes build on its new points-based immigration system, which requires people applying to come to the UK through the skilled worker route to reach 70 ‘points’ to be eligible for a work visa.

As a job on the Shortage Occupation List is worth 20 points, combined with the mandatory criteria of having an acceptable standard of English, an offer from a licensed sponsor and the required skill level, which are worth 50 points, the latest changes will ensure people in these roles reach the 70 points necessary, the government noted.

Other roles added to the list include health services and public health managers and directors, residential, day and domiciliary care managers and health professionals not elsewhere classified, such as audiologists and dental hygiene therapists.

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