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Indian doctors returning from UK

Press Trust of India

Posted: Feb 16, 2007 at 1925 hrs IST

An estimated 5,000 Indian doctors have returned home from the UK since April last year when changes in immigration rules were effected, a spokesman of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin said on Friday.

"There are still more than 10,000 doctors affected here," Raman Lakshman told PTI.

He said according to some calculations there were 40,000 junior Indian doctors in Britain. Of them 10,000 have got staff grade positions.

"Before 2004-05, about 10,000 doctors from India used to come every year. Since the new immigration rules were announced in 2006, according to rough estimate 5,000 doctors might have gone back," he said.

He said there would be more problems after August this year when the government's Modernising Medical Career Process scheme would be introduced.

He said under the centralized scheme, the Government had advertised for 21,000 jobs for doctors in the British Medical Journal.

The advertisement came on January 22 and the applications would be short-listed by February 24 and the appointments would be made by August this year.

He said about 30,000 doctors had applied for the 21,000 jobs.

"If the health department applies the new immigration rules, all the jobs will go to UK and EU citizens and there will be another 9,000 unemployed doctors," he said.

Lakshman said the Association had appealed to the Department of Health not to apply the discriminatory immigration rules. "They are considering it," he said.

Earlier, Indians doctors could apply and get a job in the National Health Service once they passed the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test.

But under the new immigration rules, the employer has to prove that they had no appropriate candidates from the UK and EU before offering it to the non-EU candidates.

"We believe it is immoral and unfair to do this to Indian and other international doctors already in the UK for some years and committed to life and work here," Lakshman said.

"The Government has changed rules midway for these doctors causing damage to their lives and careers. This is unfair," he said.

There has been an excess of doctors in the UK because of increased training places in medical schools in the UK and a perception that there were many jobs, he said.

Also there was an increase in the number of PLAB exam places (to almost 10,000 per year at one time) and increase in number of doctors coming from the newly enlarged European Union, Lakshman said.

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