May 08, 2008

Barring Indian doctors will put UK patients at risk: BMA

The British Medical Association (BMA) on Thursday supported the cause of overseas doctors, including Indians, saying the government's attempts to restrict their career opportunities could threaten hospital services and put patients' lives at risk.

Last week the House of Lords ruled as illegal a state guideline discriminating against overseas medical graduates for employment in National Health Services (NHS).

The government guideline was legally challenged by the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO).

"Removing the pool of International Medical Graduates from the UK altogether will destabilise rotas," and this will "ultimately place patients at risk", Chairman of the BMA's International Committee Terry John said.

"International medical staff are keeping services running. Three in ten junior doctors are now working on an understaffed rota, partly a result of the fact that many of our overseas colleagues have already grown disillusioned and left the NHS," he said.

Under the new points-based immigration system, Indian doctors who already have Highly Skilled Migrants Programme (HSMP) status will be able to compete for training programmmes with their UK colleagues.

However, the Department of Health is still reported to be consulting on other proposals to manage medical migration, including charging Indian and other overseas doctors for their postgraduate training.

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