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No plans to reverse ban on foreign health workers’ dependants, says Streeting

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting with a booklet containing Labour six General Election pledges (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting with a booklet containing Labour six General Election pledges (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Labour has “no plans” to change rules stopping foreign healthcare workers bringing their dependants with them to the UK, Wes Streeting has said.

Speaking to reporters at a campaign stop in Worcester, the shadow health and care secretary said he was “proud of the fact the NHS is an international workforce” but added it had become too reliant on overseas staff under the Conservatives.

He said there was a “global shortage” of medical staff, meaning the UK could not “assume that that pool of talent will always be there for us to draw on”, and described the recruitment of staff from countries with their own shortages as “immoral”.

Asked whether he would reverse a ban on overseas healthcare staff bringing their dependants to the UK, Mr Streeting said: “I’m not aware of any plans by (shadow home secretary) Yvette Cooper to change those rules.

“Obviously we’ll be working really closely together and I want to make sure that by developing our homegrown talent I help Yvette reduce net migration.”

The Government brought in the ban on dependants in March in an effort to reduce migration levels.

But health and social care providers warned the move could drive people from the sector, exacerbating staffing difficulties.

Sir Keir Starmer looks on as Wes Streeting gives a speech on the General Election campaign trail
Sir Keir Starmer looks on as Wes Streeting gives a speech on the General Election campaign trail (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

A spokesperson for the Royal College of Nursing described the policy as “detrimental to those who need care and cruel to those who provide it”.

Mr Streeting also said the UK needed to “redress the balance” between homegrown medical students and international ones, saying too many top performing students were being turned away from British medical schools.