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Tens of thousands of NRI doctors may have to leave from UK

London High Court upheld a new rule, Foreign doctors in jeopardy


LONDON, Feb. 09, 2007
Col. Harbakash Singh

Last Friday, the London High Court upheld a new rule, declining to quash the Immigration Regulations that came into force on April 3, 2006, leaving nearly 16,000 Indian doctors and Arab doctors 6,000 in jeopardy. More than 10,000 trainee doctors will have to leave the country with the new law.

The new rules will begin from July 7 and after that only doctors from the European Union can work without a permit.

The new rules will favor European Union and home-grown UK doctors, non-EEA (European Economic Area) graduates hoping to continue their training in the UK will have to apply for work permits rather than, as previously allowed, enter with a student visa. It will make a huge difference. A lot of foreign students seeking postgraduate education travel to the UK and the visa changes will have a big impact on them.

The court also clearly mentioned that there was no obligation on the government departments to consult BAPIO or other interested parties before making the changes to the Immigration Rules, though it did say that the Secretary of State for Home had failed to carry out a Race Equality Impact assessment before making changes to the Immigration Rules.

Justice Stanley Burton said, "If there had been a significant examination of the race relations issues involved in the change to the Immigration Rules, there would have been a written record of it."

"The NHS has been built on the back of foreign doctors, and now they are closing the door and saying 'Sorry; we don't want you anymore.'"

Ramesh Mehta, BAPIO President, said:

  • We believe we have a strong case and we are positively thinking of appealing against the High Court verdict.
  • The verdict has provided no relief to thousands of international medical graduates whose careers are being destroyed by the new Immigration Regulations which came into force on April 3, 2006.
  • We are surprised that the court does not agree with us that the Department of Health Guidance misrepresents the effect of the Immigration Rules and it is an illegitimate attempt to amend the rules, thereby circumventing the requirements of Section 3(2) of the Immigration Act 1971

In UAE, the absence of postgraduate opportunities has traditionally led to a high percentage of Arab doctors pursuing training in the UK and number has risen in recent years, in part due to the complications associated with accessing American student visas in the wake of 9/11. British Arab Medical Association (BAMA), which has campaigned vehemently against the new rules.

Most of the doctors halfway through their training now have no job, no visa and no way to support themselves. With the new Law, it means that doctors already in the UK have no time to adjust or make alternative arrangements. All new application forms and guidances have been made available last year for doctors and dentists and openly favors UK and EU citizens graduated from accredited UK medical universities.

Dr. Ashok Agrwal from New Delhi offered a training placement if the hospital cannot find an EU doctor to fill the post, told NRI press that he had come here at great expense to get this training, and with this new law his whole life has been in jeopardy.

One local doctor said, " This is our country and no body has the right to tell us how we have to improve our medical system.