Labour turns on Asian NHS doctors

Doctors from the Indian sub-continent have helped to build-up and sustain the NHS  – the new law will have disastrous consequences
Doctors from the Indian sub-continent have helped to build-up and sustain the NHS – the new law will have disastrous consequences

ANOTHER shameful page of British imperialist history has been turned. This time tens of thousands of Asian and African doctors, recruited to come to Britain to be at the heart of the NHS, an action that left their countries in many cases short of doctors, are now to be brutally dispensed with and their place taken by white doctors from the new EU states, Poland, the Czech Republic, the Baltic States etc.

New immigration rules just rushed in mean that non-EU doctors cannot complete their training without the ‘proper work permits’, which are proving to be very difficult to come by.

British imperialism, always the opportunist, is now set to abuse the very same Asian and African doctors without which the NHS would never have been able to function.

Having used them the Blair government is now set to abuse them.

Yesterday, more than 1,000 Asian doctors protested outside the Department of Health saying that the changes will leave thousands of trainee doctors jobless.

Labour is sworn to uphold the concept of the global economy and the free movement of capital.

However, it now says that it intends to protect posts for the use of UK doctors. Has it become protectionist? The truth is that it hasn’t, since it will allow as many doctors as want to come here from Eastern Europe, to do so, without having to get work permits.

The only difference, as far as the new arrivals are concerned, is their skin colour. In other words, the new regulations are racist to the core.

For over 40 years graduate doctors from Africa and Asia have come to Britain without any visa restriction to complete their training in the NHS.

As a result of this policy, in some areas, Asian doctors make up 70 per cent of the total number of doctors.

From now on, trainee doctors and dentists will not be able to get a training place work permit at a hospital, without the hospital proving that it has not been able to recruit a doctor from the UK or the EU.

The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (Bapio) said yesterday that at least 15,000 doctors may have to leave the UK heavily in debt and without having completed qualifications, despite having been encouraged to come to the UK in the first place.

Dr Ramesh Mehta of Bapio said yesterday: ‘A lot of new, budding doctors enthusiastically seek to complete their training in Britain because of the opportunity to support the NHS – and the knowledge they can then take to their practices in their home countries.’

‘They sell their homes, take out loans and leave their families behind to work in Britain. The change in rules is an absolute betrayal. Many will now return home with debt but no diploma, no qualifications.’

The British Medical Association, the professional association for doctors, has accused the government of changing the rules without any regard for welfare. It said at least 9,000 doctors in short-term junior and senior house officer grades would be affected.

Health minister Lord Warner said yesterday that the change was necessary as competition for jobs grew.

‘What we have done is make sure that we are becoming more self-sufficient in training our own doctors,’ he said.

‘There has been a 70 per cent increase in the number of medical school intakes over the last seven or eight years and we have to find and ensure that there are post graduate specialist training posts.’

This does not square with the position that trainee doctors from the EU states will be able to come to Britain in their tens of thousands if they wish to do so.

All the NHS trade unions must address this matter and quickly. They must tell the Blair government that tens of thousands of patients owe their lives to these doctors and that they cannot be treated in such a blatantly racist fashion. The trade unions must be prepared to take industrial action on this issue.