Home Office confirms visa extensions for all UK international doctors on a MTI visa after pressure from RCSEd through AOMRC

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23 Jul 2020

The extension of visas for all international doctors in the UK on a Medical Training Initiative (MTI) visa has been confirmed by the Home Office, following pressure from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh through the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.


MTI doctors come to the United Kingdom to undertake a two-year training period in our NHS before taking their new skills back to their countries of origin. It is a long-running scheme with a track record of benefiting the International Medical Graduate, their home healthcare system, and the NHS. During the Covid-19 pandemic however these doctors have served with distinction on the frontline of the response to the virus, and they have thus lost six months of their training, at least a quarter of the time they have. The Home Office had confirmed that, along with other international doctors, any MTI doctor whose visa expired before October 2020 would be entitled to a twelve-month extension. However, this did not apply to those in the first eighteen months of their two years of training. Those doctors would, therefore, lose a quarter of their training time and not be able to make it up later.

This was clearly unfair, and therefore this issue formed one of the five asks the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh made of the government in our International Doctor’s Manifesto in April 2020. The College’s policy team began lobbying for this within Westminster, working alongside the International Deanery who coordinated the pressure through the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC). Briefings were sent to multiple figures in Parliament including the Health and Social Care Select Committee, government and opposition MPs and members of the House of Lords. A letter organised by the International Deanery and signed by the College President Prof. Mike Griffin and Vice-President Pala B Rajesh was sent to the CEO of the AoMRC, Alastair Henderson, and the Acting Manager of the MTI scheme Rose Jarvis. In this way, the College brought co-ordinated pressure to bear on all those involved in this decision.

On 22 July the Home Office formally confirmed to the AoMRC that all of those international doctors on an MTI visa who have been working on the pandemic would be entitled to the twelve-month extension to complete their training, regardless of how far through it they were when the virus hit. The AoMRC made it clear that the campaigning of the RCSEd was vital in achieving this.

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is delighted by this change, which will be a weight off the minds of hundreds of MTI doctors. Our NHS is rightly renowned throughout the world for its quality and the training it provides, and that is why so many doctors look to undergo some training under its wings. MTI doctors have stood shoulder to shoulder with their colleagues in the NHS during the pandemic and we are proud to have been able to show our gratitude for their service by ensuring they can complete their training here in the UK.

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