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No more training for overseas doctors

Specialists from UK, Pakistan and India have dissented

18 November 2008.The new immigration laws prevent thousands of doctors from around the world to train as specialists in the UK.

The recent rules end the Highly Skilled Migrant programme, Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland scheme and the International Graduates Scheme that were all used by medical graduates from less developed countries to acquire internationally recognised qualifications.

"We have introduced a clause preventing new highly skilled migrants from taking up doctor in training posts," aHome Office spokesperson said.

"We need to ensure that there are sufficient training opportunities for UK trained medical graduates where there has been substantial investment at taxpayers’ expense."

The British Medical Association has opposed the move arguing that removing the pool of international medical graduates altogether will destabilise medical rotas and ultimately put patients at risk.

Dr Terry John, chairman of the association’s International Committee, said: "International medical staff keep services running. Three in ten junior doctors are now working on an understaffed rota – partly as a result of the fact that many of our overseas colleagues have already grown disillusioned and left the NHS.

"We agree that in the long-term the UK should be able to produce and sustain its own medical workforce. However, knee-jerk solutions are likely to have a negative impact."

Last year, around 1,200 UK trained medical graduates were unable to obtain training posts because of over subscription. However, a total of 8,925 doctors were classed as highly skilled migrants in 2007, a figure that dropped to 6,300 in 2008, according to figures from the UK’s Department of Health.

Doctors residing in the UK as highly skilled migrants must apply for Tier 1 immigration status on visa renewal, said a Home Office (HO)spokesperson.

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