Indian doctors in the UK could be hit by new visa regulations that would see European workers given priority for skilled jobs, the Press Trust of India reported. The proposed changes would make it harder for Indian-origin doctors to apply for positions in the NHS, with them being required to pass an additional test.
The UK Migration Advisory Committee has recommended that employers who wish to recruit a migrant for a skilled job will need to show evidence that they have carried out the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT). The new proposals will only apply to job vacancies that are not on the shortage occupation list.
However the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) has warned the UK Home Office that the proposed changed could cause "chaos" for the NHS. President of BAPIO, Dr Ramesh Mehta, said that the changes would solve political issues, but not practical ones.
"In real life, these proposals are unlikely to work properly," Dr Mehta told the Press Trust of India. "The UK needs professional staff in the healthcare field as there is a huge shortage of doctors and nurses in the country. This move will cause chaos for the NHS, besides being unfair on doctors from overseas."
The proposals to introduce a mandatory RLMT for overseas doctors would mean that Indian medical graduates would only be eligible to apply for higher training positions within the NHS once most vacancies have already been filled by UK and European nationals, local broadcaster NDTV reported.
In an attempt to engage Indian doctors with the NHS, BAPIO has facilitated a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the England NHS Foundation Trust in Birmingham and the local government in the Indian state of Maharashtra to initially bring ten doctors from India to train in emergency medicine in the UK. There are hopes to extend the MoU to a national level in India.
Dr Mehta explained: "Emergency medicine is at a nascent stage in India and under this win-win situation, the NHS gets qualified doctors to meet shortages and the Indian doctors get mentoring and training in the UK."
The announcement of the proposed changes to doctors' visa regulations comes a few days after a British-Indian doctor warned medics in India to stay away from a "Stalinist" UK healthcare system. NHS whistleblower Narinder Kapur cautioned Indian doctors and nurses from coming to work in the UK, accusing the NHS of being a "biased and corrupt" system.
Kapur told IBTimes UK: "I would say to Indian doctors and nurses in India: think twice before you come here. It's a horrible system and unless they change it I wouldn't advise them to come. It's definitely biased against minorities, especially if they raise concerns."