THE Scottish Government is set to pressure their UK counterparts to fast-track visas for people looking to come to work in Scotland’s NHS.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf confirmed he would be raising the issue in a Four Nations meeting after a question from the Greens’ Gillian Mackay in Holyrood on Tuesday.

Mackay had raised the impact of Brexit and the Home Office’s strict immigration policies on staffing levels in the health service, which is currently seeing crisis levels across the UK.

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In response, Yousaf said both he and the Welsh Health Secretary had raised the issue of fast-track visas for health workers with the Tory government He said they were both trying “to get them to see sense when it comes to the very prohibitive and restrictive immigration rules that we currently have”.

Yousaf went on: “I genuinely don’t understand it because I know there are many NHS trusts in England who are facing the same challenges from a social care perspective as well as an NHS perspective too.

“In my next Four Nations meeting I will ask that the issue of immigration and immigration rules in particular are back on the agenda.”

The National:

Speaking afterwards, Mackay said: “I am pleased that the Health Secretary sees the sense in fast tracking working visas for those looking to join the NHS in Scotland, and indeed across the UK, during these unprecedented times. I welcome his commitment to ensure this is put firmly on the agenda at the next [Four Nations meeting].

“The NHS urgently needs more staff, yet we have lost access to one of the biggest labour pools in the world due to Brexit.

“Overseas recruitment by the Scottish Government is ongoing, but I wanted to seek clarity on what conversations the Cabinet Secretary had with the Home Office and UK Government ministers to fast track visas for those coming to work in the Scottish NHS."

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Mackay went on: “It is clear that Brexit has been a disaster.

“By reversing some of that damage, and by making it easier to bring in support for those hard pressed health workers, we can do our best to help alleviate some of the stresses and challenges they are facing in delivering the highest levels of patient care."

The National previously reported how some medics looking to come and work in the UK NHS have been left waiting for as long as six months for the Home Office to clear their paperwork.

Campaign group EveryDoctor said clearing the backlog would help to alleviate the issues facing the health service and should be on the government’s priority list.