“It is not a great tragedy but a very regressive step in the spirit of international cooperation. More than doctors in India, it will be healthcare in UK that will suffer.” That’s how cardiac surgeon Naresh Trehan describes the UK government’s decision to ban Highly Skilled Migrant (HSM) Visas to doctors from non-European countries for training positions.
The UK government’s means that Indian doctors looking at post-graduate trainee positions in the UK cannot get a visa, though those already there will not be affected. Doctors in India say the step was taken under pressure from UK doctors who were losing patients and jobs in the NHS to better qualified from India. “The new system is discriminatory. Everyone is talking about the world as a global village but the UK has taken the retrograde step of keeping non-Europeans out,” says Trehan, adding that the new system will impact healthcare in the UK more than India.
Agrees Dr Sanjiv Malik, president of SAARC Medical Association: “UK hopes the new rule will create places for its own doctors, who are now competing with other nationals for trainee positions. If they keep the best minds out, they will be the losers. It will phenomenally affect the quality of healthcare in the UK as doctors of Indian Origin are the mainstay of the NHS.”
The new point based system applies a mechanical way for assessing people, which cannot assess skill, adds Malik. Opportunities are huge in India and good corporate hospitals that pay well and provide technically-advanced facilities, they say. “More cardiac surgeries take place in Delhi than all of the UK. It makes better sense for doctors to train here than go to the UK,” says Malik.