Doctors of Indian origin obtained an unprecedented emergency injunction on Sunday against a new criteria laid down by the Department of Health that potentially restricted the employment chances of several non-European doctors in the current round of recruitment to the National Health Service (NHS).
The injunction has been obtained against the stipulation announced by the department on Feb 23 that only those non-EU doctors who had a visa to work beyond Aug 1, 2007 would be considered during the recruitment drive called Modernising Medical Careers (MMC).
The injunction says that until the matter can be heard inter partes on March 8, before a judge of the Administrative Court, those non-EU doctors under the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme whose visa becomes due for renewal before August 1 2007 should not be excluded from interview and the appointment process.
The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), which obtained the injunction on Sunday, said that the new condition had caused a "great deal of worry and anxiety amongst international medical graduates". BAPIO lawyers asked the department to remove this requirement.
Anthony Robinson, BAPIO solicitor, said that the association did not have any other choice but to seek emergency injunction against applying the new criteria after several efforts to contact and gain redressal from the department failed.
Ramesh Mehta, BAPIO president, said: "So far we have stood up against unfairness and injustice and we have no plans to back down now". BAPIO last Thursday also launched an appeal against the Feb 9 ruling of the high court that disallowed a judicial review of new immigration rules announced in April 2006.
Raman Lakshman, BAPIO vice chair (policy), said: "Given that our members will begin to suffer harm from being excluded from the interviews and the department is so far unprepared to enter in to any dialogue, we had no alternative.
Nearly 30,000 doctors have applied for 22,000 training posts starting Aug 1, 2007, many of them of Indian origin. Hundreds of British doctors who applied have not been shortlisted. Many of them have started a campaign to protest, while others are actively considering migrating to Australia, Canada and the United States.
Lakshman said: "We have evidence from Indian doctors who have written to us that the department of health has not considered immigration status for the short-listing. While it is difficult to calculate numbers, we have heard from quite a number of doctors saying they have been short-listed for interviews.
"It is therefore also true that those who have not been short-listed have not been successful because of other factors and not because of their nationality. We are therefore quite pleased about this".