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UK refuses visa to Indian dentist

The move on part of UK immigration officials came despite scotland facing a dire shortage of dentists.

india Updated: Aug 08, 2006 14:06 IST

An Indian dentist who moved to Scotland as part of official efforts to fill vacancies has been asked to return to India because British immigration officials do not consider her a "highly skilled" migrant.

Siddhika Sathyamoorthy, 24, has an offer of a permanent job from her current employers in Fife.

But officials say that, among other criteria, she did not earn over 27,000 pounds last year or have a highly qualified husband or partner.

Hence, she will not be allowed to remain in Scotland.

Sathyamoorthy came to Scotland last year after hearing about the Scottish Executive's campaign for foreign dentists to deal with the dentistry crisis.

An Indian citizen, she graduated in dentistry from Sheffield University last June before moving to Templehall practice in Kirkcaldy, where she has now completed her one-year vocational dental programme training.

Although her employers are keen to keep her on at their surgery, reports say that she was told in June that her application to extend her visa had been refused.

Local politicians have criticised the decision as being contrary to the government's policies for recruiting dentists to work in Scotland.

Sathyamoorthy told The Scotsman, a leading local newspaper: "I'm disappointed, very disappointed to be honest. I have a British degree and I love working here and get on well with the patients. I want to stay in Kirkcaldy and stay in the NHS (National Health Service).

"It frustrates me that I'm qualified but being stopped from working in an area which is crying out for health workers. It's actually quite upsetting."

When she applied to have her visa extended, Sathyamoorthy was informed by the Home Office that she did not have enough "points" to stay in the UK under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme.

Richard McFadzean, who runs six wholly-NHS surgeries, said he had a job waiting for her and that he had experienced great difficulty recruiting dentists to work in Fife.

He said: "Siddhika is a very good dentist. She's been with us for a year and it would be a shame if we lost her.

She gets on with the patients and is very trustworthy. There's a job there for her if this problem can be sorted out.

I advertised in the British Dental Journal in June for a dentist and only got two applications. One didn't turn up and one came up from London."

Scotland has been facing a dire shortage of dentists and hundreds of thousands of patients are without access to an NHS dentist.

Latest figures released in June by the information and statistics division revealed that while Scotland currently has 2,367 dentists, it falls short of requirements by 120.

Andrew Lamb, the British Dental Association's Director for Scotland, said: "Scotland has a well-documented shortage of dentists.

As figures published in June by NHS Education Scotland show, that shortage looks set to continue for years to come."

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: "We cannot comment on an individual case. An announcement on the points-based system was made in March followed by changes to the immigration rules in April."