The number of skilled non-EU workers granted UK visas is capped - with the Home Office arguing the restriction is in "the national interest" but NHS bosses say increasing numbers of doctors are being refused permission, worsening rota gaps and the waits patients face for treatment.
The NHS is already short of doctors.In the North West a long-running scheme has been refused 100 doctor visas. The scheme supplies junior doctors to more than 30 NHS trusts. Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said he had heard of another 400 cases of blocked visas since December.
"We have examples of clinics being cancelled and delays in terms of patients receiving care."
Jon Rouse, chief officer of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, which represents services across the region, said he was shocked and concerned by the development.
"As we reach the end of a winter where the NHS has been stretched to its very limits, partly as a result of a lack of medical workforce, we find it almost impossible to understand how this decision can have been reached."