Landmark victory for Indian doctors in Britain

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London, Apr 30: Indian doctors will not be restricted from applying for training posts in Britain, as stipulated in government guidelines earlier. In a landmark decision today, the House of Lords declared the Department of Health was wrong in issuing guidelines against overseas medical graduates.

The House of Lords today upheld British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin's (BAPIO) hard fought challenge against the British government's attempt to retrospectively introduce regulations to restrict non-EU doctors already in the UK from applying for training posts in the National Health Service (NHS). The visa regulation of March 2006 made it impossible for overseas doctors, around 12000 of Indian-origin, to get trainee jobs in the NHS Trust.

The government was refused leave to appeal to the House of Lords by the Appeal Court in October last year when it ruled in favour of BAPIO that the guideline issued by the Department of Health was illegal.

However, the government appealed directly to the House of Lords and the appeal was heard on February 28.

Previously, the High Court in a judicial review, upheld BAPIO's claim that the Home Office failed to conduct a Race Equality Impact Assessment as required under the Race Relations legislation.

In welcoming the judgement, Dr Ramesh Mehta, President of the BAPIO said, ''The House of Lords has vindicated our position that the government had acted in haste and prematurely without thinking through the damaging consequences for thousands of international medical graduates that it's retrospectively applied unfair regulations were likely to impose.'' ''This will provide much needed relief to thousands of doctors who have been through unimaginable stress,'' said Dr Satheesh Mathew, Vice Chair for Operations, adding, ''Many careers have already been destroyed. However this ruling will give hope of fair treatment to the doctors who are still in the UK.''

Dr Raman Lakshman, Vice-Chair for Policy commented, ''We wish to thank our supporters for their unwavering support in this battle for justice and without whom we could not have overturned this callous decision of the government.'' He added, ''At this moment of victory we cannot forget those whom we could not help; those who had come to the UK to avail of permit free training but had that opportunity abruptly withdrawn, thus being put into such hardship that some ended their lives.'' Buddhdev Pandya MBE, Corporate Adviser of BAPIO said, ''It is appalling that the government, despite having given so much weight to the concept of 'consultation', did not heed to the advice given by voluntary organisations such as BAPIO and prolonged the agony of thousands of doctors as well as fuelled chaos in the recruitment process.'' He added that the BAPIO is seeking partnership with the Department of Health and Home Office to develop more effective processes for recruitment of overseas doctors on the basis of need for the NHS.

UNI

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