A doctor offered a vacant job in Cambridgeshire has been stopped because her salary is too low under immigration rules.
The 29-year-old from India was left devastated after her application was held back, because she does not meet a criteria that includes a salary threshold of £55,000.
She would ordinarily be on a salary between £30,000 and £45,000.
She was selected for a specialised post in child psychiatry at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, which included on-call duties with patients at Addenbrooke's hospital.
‘My life has been put on hold’
The woman told the News: "I'm absolutely devastated. My life has been put on hold. I spent five years trying to get to this point.
"I achieved all the levels that I needed, I went through an exhaustive examination process, I was selected, I rented a house, I was ready.
"It's more frustrating because I can't do anything to change it. There's nothing to work on.
"The whole thing was very arbitrary, and I just can't understand why this has happened."
The doctor, who asked not to be named, added she left India to "learn from the best" – with the prospect of becoming a consultant in this country for "many years".
Anna Conway Morris, a consultant psychiatrist responsible for coordination of recruitment for child and adolescent psychiatrist training in the east of England, said she thought she had "hit the jackpot" when the woman's CV came through.
"We really need her," she said. "There is a nationwide shortage of psychiatrists, even worse in psychiatry and, because of Brexit, EU citizens don't want to come here."
‘This unexpectedly adds to current staffing pressures’
Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) says three overseas doctors, including the woman from India, due to join the hospital in February have been declined from joining.
A CUH spokesman said: "Cambridge University Hospitals, which is proud to have more than 84 nationalities working at the trust, was disappointed to learn that visas for three overseas doctors due to join us in February, have been declined because they do not meet a criteria that includes a salary threshold of £55k.
"This unexpectedly adds to current staffing pressures, particularly in our intensive care unit, and we will be liaising with NHS employers for guidance. In the meantime, the trust will continue to ensure that excellent and safe care is provided to our patients.
"The trust currently employs around 1,650 doctors, of which 14.6 per cent are non-UK, non-EU nationals."
The Home Office's Tier 2 cap restricts the number of visas it awards each month.
This Tier 2 visa is offered to skilled workers who are from nations outside the EU.
‘Outstanding idiocy straight from Downing Street’
Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner has criticised the government for the cap – which was reached in both December 2017 and January 2018.
Mr Zeichner said: "Anyone coming to the country under a Tier 2 visa is clearly of the so-called 'brightest and best' that the government claim they want to attract to the UK.
"This cap serves no purpose other than to make the government look like they’re tough on immigration – when in reality they are being tough on patients.
"If doctors with jobs at Addenbrooke's are having their visas rejected, and scientists and engineers from excellent world-leading institutions are being excluded, this shows what a shambles our immigration system is.
"There is no upside to this cap; it is a further example of outstanding idiocy straight from Downing Street, and is damaging to both patient health and the wider UK economy."
What the Home Office has to say
A Home Office spokesman said: "The Tier 2 visa route is intended to fill gaps in the labour market. When demand exceeds the month's allocation of Tier 2 (General) places, priority is given to applications for a shortage or PhD-level occupation.
"The published shortage lists include a range of medical professionals, including consultants, specialising in clinical radiology and emergency medicine, and we estimate that around a third of all Tier 2 places go to the NHS.
"It is important that employers look first to the UK resident labour market before recruiting from overseas.
"We do not routinely comment on individual cases."
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