Amidst falling numbers of Indian doctors moving to the UK in recent years, organisations representing Indian doctors have alleged victimisation and racism in the National Health Service (NHS), and have urged India to take up the issue at the highest level.
The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (Bapio) and British International Doctors Association (BIDA) have petitioned Asian MPs and lords with several examples of doctors - many holding Indian passports - being allegedly victimised and unfairly punished in their jobs.
“There is a stark contrast in the way Indian and white doctors are treated for the same offence. There is a club culture among white managers and white doctors. As an organisation we are working for equal treatment for all,” Bapio president Ramesh Mehta told HT on Tuesday.
According to latest figures, Indian doctors constitute the second largest group in the NHS (after UK-trained doctors) with 24,948 doctors. In terms of ethnic origin, Indian doctors number 31,561, which includes those born to Indian parents in the UK.
The petition, signed by Mehta, BIDA president Sabyasachi Sarker and London-based consultant neuropsychologist Narinder Kapur, says that current NHS investigation and disciplinary procedures were ‘heavily biased’ against Indian and other ethnic minority staff.
“Over the past few years, we have had to support a number of Indian doctors who have found themselves in this sad and distressing situation, often having to face kangaroo courts in NHS Trusts, with huge financial expenditure on all sides”, the petition says.
Kapur said health secretary Jeremy Hunt had been informed of the situation, but there was no action. He wanted India to take up the issue with the UK government, and said he and colleagues had recently met India’s deputy high commssioner Varinder Paul in this regard.
According to Kapur, nearly 50% of Indian doctors in the NHS face unfair treatment - consciously or unconsciously - at various levels, including for promotions and awards, while there had been at least one attempt of an Indian doctor trying to commit suicide after being allegedly victimised.
Prime Minister David Cameron had often praised the contribution of Indian doctors to the NHS historically, but Kapur said it did not match the situation on the ground. He and his colleagues have called for an overhaul of procedures and an inquiry into alleged institutional racism in the NHS.