02 June 2010

Doctor shortage sees UK immigration recruitment drive in India

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The NHS is being forced to try to recruit junior doctors from India to fill the shortages of doctors needed to start work in hospitals this August.

Tighter UK immigration rules introduced in recent years has meant many overseas doctors left Britain and returned home. The issue has also be compounded with the addition of new European regulations limiting the hours of doctors has caused unfilled vacancies.

The BBC has reported that attempts to recruit Indian doctors foundered on a disagreement between government departments.

"We pulled the plug on overseas recruitment far too quickly," said Professor Derek Gallen, who is postgraduate dean of medical training for Wales.

"[We didn't] realise what the implications of that action would be two, three or four years down the line," he added.

The Welsh Deanery is one of four medical training schools across the UK that plan to take more than 100 junior doctors over to the NHS in areas such as paediatrics, obstetrics, gynaecology, anaesthesia, and accident and emergency.

The European Working Time Directive introduced into the NHS last August limits doctors to working only 48 hours per week, and some district general hospitals have found it difficult to attract enough staff to fill gaps on rotas.

In a statement, a Department of Health spokeswoman said: "The Department and UKBA (UK Border Agency) worked together to ensure the immigration system struck a balance between providing valuable training opportunities for foreign doctors without preventing UK-trained doctors from progressing in their careers." 


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