Doctors planning to protest


by Sunny
19th April, 2006 at 3:11 pm    

Hundreds doctors on the NHS, of Indian origin, are planning a demonstration outside the Department of Health on Friday to protest against recent changes to immigration laws. The change may hit up to 15,000 international medics.

The Guardian explains:

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said that an estimated 15,000 international trainee doctors seeking posts or working on short-term contracts will be unable to complete their training and be forced to go home because of a law brought in as part of last month’s overhaul of immigration, which ruled that junior doctors from outside the EU should only be eligible for jobs that cannot be filled by a “homegrown” candidate.

Dr Billoo Joy, from Kerala, India, came to England two years ago, and is on a two-year contract in Norwich which will not be renewed. “I am still around £2,000 in debt from doing my Plab [the test to allow doctors to practise in the UK] and paying rent. It’s been a real struggle. I didn’t expect further uncertainty.

“If I had been told four years ago that this would have been the case I never would have come, but now if I go back to India I will have lost that training and will have to start again with no hope of paying off my debts. Before it was difficult to get a job. Now it’s impossible.”

While I see the need to encourage home-grown doctors, the government has quickly passed the law without any regard for the doctors already here. They are left stranded, unable to finish their terms or pay off debts, because employers have been told to overlook them.


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Filed in: Party politics,Science,South Asia






13 Comments below   |  

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  1. Amit — on 19th April, 2006 at 4:31 pm  

    How does the gov’t get away with sneaking in these little laws totally on the sly??? Just look at the state of the Dental service too, most dentists within the UK right now have no clue where they stand!

  2. Robert — on 19th April, 2006 at 4:42 pm  

    While I see the need to encourage home-grown doctors, the government has quickly passed the law without any regard for the doctors already here.

    Doctors that, until comparatively recently, kept the NHS going.

    There is the complimentary counter-argument, however, which suggests that the UK should not be responsible for a ‘brain drain’ of doctors from countries with less developed Health Services.

    I have an idea: Why not ship all the surplus British doctors to India? A free and unfettered labour market! I have a notion it would do them good.

  3. Bonnie Prince Vickie — on 19th April, 2006 at 5:05 pm  

    Nother nail in the coffin of NHS. I am on a 2 fucking month waiting list for a simple dental checkup.

  4. inders — on 19th April, 2006 at 5:27 pm  

    No doctor is going to starve.

  5. Roger — on 19th April, 2006 at 6:22 pm  

    It’s reasonable to change the conditions that govern future recruitment of doctors. It is unjust to recruit people under one set of conditions and then to arbitrarily change the rules.

  6. Kulvinder — on 19th April, 2006 at 11:33 pm  

    No doctor is going to starve.

    I hope your GP does an invasive examination next time you visit.

    :(

  7. j0nz — on 19th April, 2006 at 11:39 pm  

    I saw the “first picture” of that GP that’s earning like £250,000+ NHS money. Indian!

  8. Tanvir — on 20th April, 2006 at 12:59 am  

    I think the dude in the article is making it sound a lot harsher than it sounds. Junior doctors get paid relatively well, and many get free hospital accommodation. Most of the south-asian ones I have seen are tight gits and do plenty of locum work on top and I many have got hefty savings! I know an SHO whose been here for 2 years and he drives a 911 (and thats working at a minor DGH).

    Unfortunately, a lot of these guys are not going back to India. If only they were. They new laws had its beginnings last summer, and even before then it was just a matter of time before it was going to happen.

    Most of these doctors, are taking (or more likely have already taken cos they are so on the ball) their USMLE exams and are going after the big bucks in the states.

    About half the doctors I have met over the last few years from India were only using the UK as a stepping stone to the US, using the UK as somewhere to earn some good cash while adding more stars to your cv by doing membership exams of the royal colleges, which also give you some relief in the number of years residency you have to do in the states.

    I dont think its a good thing that these doctors from India are having to move on, as im sure a good number of them were going to be potential heavyweight doctors for the NHS. What I find about the doctors from abroad are their basic science knowledge is spot on, but their communication skills are shit!! I know I’m generalizing, but most I have worked with are bloody awful with communications skills. I think this is due to communications skills not being taught out in India (the total opposite here where they go over board on it), and also in India patients are relatively poorer lower class people who are just looked upon as tools for learning.

    Anyway, I think it would have been good if there was a nicer way to end it all for the visiting doctors. I’m sure most will get to finish off whatever courses they are on and will be moving on to ore rewarding systems than the shambles that is the NHS. There is going to be too many UK qualified junior doctors in a few years time, and I think having too many doctors is always good. It might mean a few disgruntled doctors being unemployed, but if they didnt make the effort to excel, then so be it, they can go to Australia, New Zealand or other destinations UK doctors are choosing these days. When I began medical school there definitely was a widespread belief that you are guaranteed a job anyway and there is a shortage of doctors, everyone is going to be fine no matter how you perform in your studies. I think the presence of competition is going to equip our NHS with better doctors.

  9. Sunny — on 20th April, 2006 at 2:27 am  

    Good post Tanvir.

  10. StrangelyPsychedelique/Kesara — on 20th April, 2006 at 10:15 am  

    Junior doctors get paid relatively well, and many get free hospital accommodation.

    The ones I know have a pretty sh*t deal. The only reason theyre here is to get specialised experience – I dont blame them for wanting to leave as soon as theyre done.
    However Im basing that only on 3 examples but I think the rest of ure post is interesting.

    Surplus or no surplus Im still getting private health insurance though…

  11. lost — on 20th April, 2006 at 4:31 pm  

    I think the doctors from India should be agitating for better working conditions, salary and employment in India, rather than seeking the first opportunity to come abroad.

    No matter how hard they work in UK or USA, they will be the first to be subjected to immigration control whenever their host country does not need them. They will be puppet on a string just like in the late 50′s and 60′s when Enoch Powell of all people supported utilising doctors from Indian sub-continent to build the NHS. He was also the main critique on immigration in the 70′s when he put forward a proposal for voluntary repatriation at a £1000 per head.

    The west will always exploit vulnerable people for its labour market whenever needed and throw them away like garbage when not needed.

    The professionals in the Indian sub-continent should rise upto their responsibilities to foster better working condition and pay in their home country.

  12. Ravi4 — on 20th April, 2006 at 5:48 pm  

    Persuasive post Tanvir. The point about communication skills is particularly apt. Medics I know tell me many EU doctors working over here are not that hot on bedside manner either. Specific examples I’ve heard of are from France, Germany and Greece – due to combination of inadequate grasp of English; coming from a culture of greater medical intervention and less questioning of doctors; and because the individual doctors are gits. Which does raise questions about the logic of this new law discriminating in favour of them. (I know, it’s a price we pay for the joys of EU membership…)

    Lost – I wonder what would have happened if my parents (and those of most Asians living in the UK) had followed your advice – to “rise to their responsibilities” and stay at home.

  13. unni — on 26th April, 2006 at 10:21 am  

    Well done, Tanvir. You epitomise the equally unfair generalisation of British Asians as ‘spoilt brats who are uncomfortable in their brown skin’

    I wonder whether you would have been around to post this comment if not for your parents being the ‘tight gits’ that you describe as they struggled to bring you up amidst overt racism and discrimination so that you would develop the good communication skills that you have so clearly demonstrated by glossing over the glaring inaccuracies in your comment.

    I cannot be bothered to waste my time to explain the errors.

    I am glad you know an Indian SHO who owns a 911 (I mean an original Indian, complete with oily hair and funny accent). I am yet to meet one of those (obviously because most of us are ‘tight gits’ and would only buy the most dilapidated ford escort available at the local flea market)

    An original Indian (read Epsilon minus in the UK social ladder)

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