British medical graduates may be given priority on jobs

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London, Oct 9 (UNI) The UK Government proposes to slash the numbers of junior doctors from overseas coming to train in the UK in an attempt to preserve jobs for the rising number of British medical graduates.

The Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said yesterday ''if overseas applicants were preventing those educated here from getting specialist training places, then it is only right that we should consider what needs to be done.'' The Government has proposed that doctors from countries outside the European Union (EU) should not be considered for a job unless there are no qualified applicants from the UK or from elsewhere in Europe.

''Presently there are 6,451 medical schools in U K as compared to 3,749 in 1997, and the cost of training each student went up to 250,000 pounds,'' said Mr Bradshaw.

Acccording to on independent report by the Inaugural Dean of the Peninula College of Medicine and Dentistry Sir John Tooke one of the reasons for scrapping the computerised application scheme for junior doctors, training to be consultants was due to a large number of overseas doctors applying for the course.

It had been "a deeply damaging episode for British medicine", he said adding, reforms of medical training and the flawed online Medical Training Application Service (MTAS), were rushed through without proper preparation.

The furore over MTAS ran for months, with highly qualified junior doctors threatening to go abroad because they had not been called for a single interview. Eventually MTAS, which had been intended to simplify and centralise applications for training posts, was crapped.

Sir John said that the recruitment problem would recur again if the status of overseas doctors was not be resolved. Under his proposals, the medical students of UK would automatically get a first-year hospital training place on graduation, which would give them a head start over even the European candidates.

Mr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of the British Medical Association, emphasised the importance of doctors being involved in the management of the health service.

UNI

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