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India is ‘very concerned’ over a new British immigration law that has affected job prospects of thousands of Indian doctors in Britain and will take up the issue at the diplomatic level, said Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi Sunday.Â
‘It is quite unfortunate that such a large number of Indian doctors have to come back to India without even completing their courses. We are very much concerned and share the agony they are facing. This has to be taken up at the diplomatic level. I may soon meet External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to discuss this issue,’ Ravi told IANS on phone from Kerala.Â
How times have changed. The solitary lifeline now available to the thousands of Indian doctors and medical students in Britain is a legal challenge to be launched on Monday by the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) in the Appeals Court on Monday, seeking a stay on a new immigration law abolishing permit-free training for overseas doctors, most of whom just happen to be Indians.
A recent update on the The Times Of India website quotes Ramesh Mehta, president of BAPIO, who said, “We have decided to file an appeal against the judgment of the High Court and seek a stay order on the new regulation.”
At issue is the UK immigration law of April 3 last year which stipulates that doctors from countries outside the European Union need a work permit to train in Britain. To put this in human perspective, if BAPIO fails to get a stay order, the thousands of doctors of Indian origin who went to Britain under the permit-free training rule will have to leave the country. This is because the Department of Health abolished permit-free training in April 2006 in an attempt to streamline the recruitment process.
As anyone who has lived in Britain and has ever visited the country will tell you, Indian doctors have been the backbone of the National Health Service in Britain and comprise nearly one-third of the total strength of doctors in the country.Â