Extend visas for pre-reg pharmacists, Priti Patel urged

Home secretary Priti Patel has been urged to extend Tier 2 and 4 visas for pre-registration pharmacists during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society and British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association have issued a joint letter to Ms Patel highlighting the efforts of pre-reg trainees and asking the Home Office to "help them focus on contributing to the provision of key services, combating coronavirus and saving lives".

This follows the announcement that doctors, nurses and paramedics are to have their visas extended for one year.

The letter, co-signed by RPS president Sandra Gidley and BPSA president Regan McCahill, reads: “On 31 March 2020, the Home Office announced that doctors, nurses and paramedics will have their visas extended, free of charge, for one year as part of the national effort to combat COVID-19.  Pre-registered overseas nurses have had their skills test deadline extended to the end of the year as well.

“The British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society are calling for a similar visa extension for pre-registration pharmacists holding a Tier 2 or 4 visa.

“Pre-registration pharmacists are already working across the health service to support patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, we ask for the Home Office to help them focus on contributing to the provision of key services, combating coronavirus and saving lives. We believe that such a measure must be taken in order to maintain the national pharmacy workforce and to support other healthcare professions during this time of great need.

“The greatest uncertainty lies with those who currently hold a Tier 2 or 4 visa. With the registration assessment being postponed and the logistics of provisional registration still being determined by the regulatory body, there is an urgent need for clarity for both sponsors and visa holders.           

“We hope that you will review the above with due consideration and work to assist our key healthcare workers by giving them the peace of mind that they have earned over the course of this national crisis.”

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