Indian Doctors Sought After In UK
Visa rule changes may have seen a drop in the number of Indian doctors coming to work in the UK but the country-'s National Health Service (NHS) is...
London: Visa rule changes may have seen a drop in the number of Indian doctors coming to work in the UK but the country's National Health Service (NHS) is still in need of their services.
Official statistics show a fall of nearly a third in Indian doctors working in the NHS in the past five years.
However, a large number of the 3,000 foreign doctors hired last year came from India. Other countries included Pakistan, Poland, Australia, Greece, Iraq, Syria and Sudan.
"The NHS doesn't have the number of doctors it needs. The shortage is real. We aren't training enough doctors in this country, and so we are dependent on foreign-trained doctors," Dr David Rosser, medical director of University hospitals Birmingham, told 'The Guardian'.
The NHS had turned to the Indian subcontinent during labour shortages in the 1960s and early 2000s to increase the headcount of doctors.
A permit-free system as well as some short-term two-year training visas allowed Indian doctors to apply for and successfully complete specialist or general practice training in the UK as long as they were able to secure a place based on merit.
The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) explains, "After the visa change, such training is only available to EU citizens - hence Indian doctors are unable to even apply for such posts. The attractiveness of coming to the UK for postgraduate medical training is therefore no longer there". Young doctors who are keen on training away from India are applying to work in the United States or Australia where they can apply on merit for postgraduate training".
Visa rules require employers to show they have failed to attract a recruit from the EU before an Indian medic can be brought in.
The UK's General Medical Council (GMC) found new Indian doctors registering in Britain falling from 3,640 in 2004 to 340 in 2013.
NHS figures obtained by 'The Times' show that there has been a fall from 10,265 Indian doctors in 2009 to 6,880 today.
Recruitment of doctors and nurses in the NHS is set to dominate the UK's election campaign in the lead up to the polls in May this year.
Some fresh measures will be required for Indian doctors, described as the backbone of the NHS in the past, to continue to support the service in future.
NHS England works with Health Education England (HEE) to relieve current shortages.
It is boosting the number of trainee nurses and, with the College of Emergency Medicine, has organised the arrival of the 50 foreign A&E doctors.
The proportion of British staff working in the NHS has risen slightly from 88.9 per cent to 89.1 per cent over the last five years as 9,500 more doctors and 7,800 extra nurses have joined the NHS, the Department of Health said.
"Foreign health workers make a valuable contribution to the NHS, but we have introduced language checks to ensure they can properly communicate with their patients," a spokesperson said.