Indian docs under Australian scanner, again!

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Melbourne, Nov 11: Overseas Trained Doctors (OTDs) from India continue to face negative publicity down under as an Immigration Department audit report has questioned the credentials of 37 foreign medics.

Most of the 37 medical staff employed in various Queensland hospitals and mentioned in the audit conducted by Australian Immigration Department (DIAC), have been trained in India.

The controversial report, published by a Queensland newspaper, shows that 334 of the 37 OTDs had employment ''gaps'' in their work histories, which also had other discrepancies.

The audit was apparently ordered by the beleaguered Australian Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews after an Indian doctor Mohammed Asif Ali was accused of using fraudulent documents to get work in Australia. He was later deported to native India.

Mr Andrews has been facing a barrage of criticism for his handling of the case of an Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef who was arrested and later had his visa cancelled for suspected involvement with Islamists terrorists.

The charges against Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef had to be dropped by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in absence of any evidence. The Australian Immigration authorities refused to restore the visa of the doctor from Bangalore leading to charges of racism and victimisation based on nationality.

The latest audit report is being viewed seen as a damage control exercise by the Immigration Minister to restore some credibility.

But various representative bodies have come out firing against the latest action by Mr Andrews.

The Australian Doctors Trained Overseas Association has called such resume discrepancies as common practice saying that most overseas doctors embellish their resumes.

Queensland Health Minister Stephen Robertson has criticised Mr Andrews of running a media campaign. ''Post-Bundaberg, the qualifications of all overseas-trained doctors are thoroughly checked, plus independently verified by the US-based Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates,'' Mr Robertson has been quoted as saying by the newspaper Courier Mail.

He was referring to the episode involving an India-trained doctor Jayant Patel who is being sought by the Australian authorities for causing deaths of score of patients at Queensland's Bundaberg hospital. Dr Jayant Patel aka Dr Death is currently battling extradition proceedings in the US.

Queensland Medical Board has asked for a copy of the audit report while expressing trust in mainly India-trained doctors.

"We have conducted our own review of the doctors concerned and are satisfied they met all eligibility requirements at the time of their registration," a medical board statement quoted by Australian media reads.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has also come out in open support of the OTDs and has criticised Kevin Andrews for his recent actions.

An AMA statement has expressed indignation over the way its ''valuable overseas trained colleagues'' were being publicly vilified after revelations that 37 Queensland doctors had gaps in their working records.

AMA Queensland President Dr Ross Cartmill has labelled the latest audit report as another step to score political points using international medical graduates.

UNI

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