JG - Doctors protest work permit plan
Doctors protest work permit plan
published: Saturday April 22, 2006
OVERSEAS DOCTORS, mainly from the Indian sub-continent, demonstrated outside the Department of Health in London yesterday to protest against new rules forcing them to leave Britain.
Immigration regulations an-nounced last month mean doctors from outside the European Union will no longer be able to train in Britain without a work permit, a change which could hit up to 20,000 doctors. Around 70 per cent of those affected come from the Indian subcontinent, a traditional recruiting ground for Britain's state funded National Health Service.
During the protest, attended by around 250 doctors, a petition was delivered to Prime Minister Tony Blair's nearby Downing Street residence, complaining about the "sudden withdrawal" of work permits.
Some said they had borrowed large sums of money to come to Britain which would take them many years to pay off in India. "I am five thousand pounds in debt. I am in financial crisis", said Dr Alok Kalyani, from northwest India.
Kalyani said he had been in the final round of interviews for a hospital training post when the new rules came into force, and was told he was no longer eligible for the job.
Medical trainees work for up to seven years as junior doctors before qualifying as consultants or general practitioners.
OVERSEAS MEDICS TRAINED
Shortages of doctors in the past meant Britain encouraged overseas medics to train in the NHS, but a rise in the number of home-trained medical students has increased competition for suitable training jobs.
"The new rule is unfair and unjust, and leads to discrimination against doctors who have been the backbone of the NHS since its inception," said Dr Ramesh Mehta, president of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin