Doctor wins race bias claim against Scottish NHS

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A DOCTOR has won a racial discrimination case against the National Health Service which could have wide-ranging implications for up to 6,000 other doctors who qualified abroad.

Dr Tariq Ahmed Mian, who was supported by the Commission for Racial Equality, claimed the NHS in Scotland had discriminated against him on racial grounds after he failed to be shortlisted for a training post as a registrar in public health in Edinburgh.

If Dr Mian, who qualified in the Punjab and is a British citizen, cannot succeed in completing an approved NHS training he will stay in junior medical grades or even not have his 'limited registration' extended, and be unable to practice.

There are about 6,000 doctors from outside the European Union practising in Britain under limited registration, a system granted by the General Medical Council, while they complete a six or seven-year postgraduate training, after which they can apply for full registration.

Javaid Makbool, the solicitor who represented Dr Mian, said yesterday: 'The tribunal has found in our favour. We are still waiting for details of the reasons for the decision, but it may have widespread consequences for all those doctors on limited registration.'

A spokeswoman for the GMC said she was unable to comment on the implications of the case. 'We are concerned with registration and not with employment and we can only give registration to doctors who have got a post.'

Dr Mian, 40, said he was delighted with the result. 'The only doctors who have limited registration are from overseas and I was well qualified for the job.'

He has two British master of science degrees in the specialty. He qualified in Pakistan in 1978 and worked in Austria before arriving in the United Kingdom. He speaks Urdu, Punjabi, Persian and Arabic, as well as English.

He was given limited registration in 1984 and has worked in a variety of junior hospital jobs, during which time he gained his degrees from the London School of Tropical Medicine and Public Health and the University of Dundee. 'It is a very unacceptable situation. We are being discriminated against all the time and limited registration is being used as a scapegoat for these discriminatory practices,' he said.

The NHS Scotland argued that Dr Mian had only two-and-a-half years to run with the current limited registration and that the post had a duration of six years. He finds himself in a 'Catch 22', unable to win a training post in case his registration is not extended for long enough.

Margaret Michie, spokeswoman for the CRE, said: 'The implications for racial equality are clearly that other people in similar predicaments should use the law to fight for racial justice.'

A British Medical Association spokesman said it was seeing 'almost a case a day raised by a change in government policy on applications for limited registration and also for training permits. We are seeking clarification on these issues from the GMC, the Home Office and the Department of Employment'.