Indian-origin medicos in Britain win case for equal rights

November 14th, 2007 - 10:22 am ICT by admin  

The court ruled a guidance of the Department of Health, which had made it harder for doctors from overseas to take up training posts in the NHS, as unlawful.

As per the health department guidance, overseas doctors could only be considered for a training post if there was no suitable graduate from the UK or European Union. But the Court of Appeal ruled that they must be allowed to compete for training posts on an equal footing, the BBC reported.

The ruling has come as a major relief for thousands of doctors who came to the UK under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme. They were initially promised permanent residence after four years, but this status was changed retrospectively.

This made doctors who did not have indefinite leave to remain in the UK at the back of the queue for training posts.

Arguing it was unfair to its members, the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) challenged the guidance in the court.

“Doctors on the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme came to the UK in the honest expectation of careers in the NHS,” said Ram Moorthy, chairman of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee, while welcoming the court ruling.

“The BMA has never wavered from the view that they should be able to compete for training posts alongside their UK colleagues.

“What is crucial now is that the government produces clear guidance for international medical graduates applying for jobs next year.

“The chaotic implementation of the new immigration rules left overseas doctors exposed to potential discrimination,” he added.

Pointing out that the NHS had for many years relied upon overseas doctors - particularly from the Indian sub-continent - to cover the shortage of home-grown doctors, Anthony Robinson, a solicitor at Linder Myers, which represented the BAPIO, said, “Now that more UK graduates are coming through the Department of Health has been trying to get round the rights of HSMP doctors who have already made the UK their home because it failed to plan ahead.”

“This judgment is welcomed by several thousand doctors working in the NHS whose careers have been under threat,” Robinson added.

Meanwhile, the ruling has left the Department of Health “disappointed.”

“It means we no longer have the option of issuing the guidance for 2008 on which we were consulting that prioritises UK medical school graduates for specialty training posts,” said a spokesperson.

“We face the prospect of a large number of applicants competing for places… Doctors from outside Europe have made and continue to make a huge contribution to the NHS.

“The issue is not, and never has been, whether they can continue to work as NHS doctors - which they can - but whether the taxpayer should be investing in training them instead of UK medical graduates,” added the spokesperson. (ANI)

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