NHS neglects refugee doctors, says BMA

Nina Lakhani
Sunday 15 June 2008 00:00 BST

Hundreds of refugee doctors are being denied jobs in the NHS because of red tape and the unreasonable expense of registering here.

While nearly 1,200 refugee and asylum-seeking doctors are registered with the British Medical Association, the actual numbers now in the UK are thought to be closer to 2,000. Of these, only one in seven are currently working in the NHS. A further 25 per cent are not working, but are "job-ready", having passed the necessary language and professional exams needed to practise in the UK.

The reason for this, a BMA report will claim this week, is because the process is too slow and expensive.

Cash-strapped hospitals increasingly charge for unsalaried work experience, which is essential for doctors to gain an understanding of the NHS. Projects providing them with information and advice on navigating the system have become rare, after funding was withdrawn in 2006. And NHS loans to help pay for expensive exams are scarce, leading to further delays and increasing reliance on charities. As a result, says the BMA, motivated doctors are prevented from making a valuable contribution to the NHS.

Dr Edwin Borman, chairman of the BMA refugee doctor liaison group, said: "Dealing with this better would be a win-win situation: for the refugees, who desperately want to re-establish their medical careers and build a new life after horrific trauma, and for the NHS, which would get doctors in areas that are difficult to fill."

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