London : Britain’s citizens back a more liberal visa regime for overseas doctors and medical staff from countries like India to meet the shortage of the UK’s state-funded National Health Service, according to a new survey released on Tuesday.

The poll by YouGov on behalf of the UK campaign group ‘38 Degrees’ found that only 14 per cent of Britons back the present policy on visas for the NHS staff, who are subject to an overall monthly cap. As many as 71 per cent of those surveyed said that the UK should instead decide on visas for NHS staff “based on what the NHS needs”.

The poll, conducted earlier this month, came soon after it had emerged that hundreds of Indian doctors are being denied visas to come and work in the NHS despite an ongoing medical staffing crisis in the country.

They were denied the visas despite being recruited by NHS Trusts to fill shortages due to the monthly quota on Tier 2 visas for skilled professionals being over-subscribed.

The cap under the Tier-2 visa category to allow companies to bring in professionals from outside the European Union (EU) is set at 20,700 per year, with a monthly limit of around 1,600.

In other fields as well, experts warn that access to overseas professionals remain crucial for the growth and development of the UK economy.

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