On Friday, the British High Court of Justice declared the 2006 visa regulations — which made it tougher for non-EU doctors, including 12,000-odd of Indian origin, to get trainee jobs in the National Health Service (NHS) Trust — to be unlawful and discriminatory.
Dr Imran Yousaf, one of the parties to the legal appeal against the regulations, committed suicide in January this year — allegedly due to the visa problem. Yousaf, of Pakistani origin, apparently did not leave a suicide note but a letter informing him his visa would not be extended was found close to his body.
Yousaf came to the UK under a scheme where doctors were allowed to stay for four years and then become eligible for trainee jobs. In March 2006, British Minister of Health Lord Warner announced new visa rules giving priority to British and EU applicants, making it much more difficult for South Asian doctors to get a job.
Now the regulations have been overturned. Dr Sheethal Mathew, vice-chair of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, says, “This will reinforce the faith of international medical graduates that truth and justice does prevail in Britain.”
The BBC reported a spokesperson for the UK’s Department of Health as saying: “The issue is not whether they can continue to work as NHS doctors — which they can — but whether the taxpayer should be investing in training them instead of UK medical graduates.”