With one more of the eight people arrested in connection with the failed terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom being identified as an Indian - taking the total number of Indians detained to three - the employment prospects of migrating Indian doctors here are bound to be affected. Gaining entry into the country will become more difficult, a senior government source confirmed to the Hindustan Times.Indian immigrants coming to work in the National Health Service (NHS) - or elsewhere - will have to undergo far more stringent security checks.
Britain's intelligence agency, MI 5, is expected to be brought in to check out foreigners, it was revealed. A Home Office review of the recruitment process by which overseas staff are inducted into the NHS will be announced shortly. It will be directly supervised by Sir Alan West, the new terrorism minister. This could well lead to a reappraisal of the need for foreign workers in the NHS, though foreign doctors have been the backbone of the NHS for decades now.
Global watch lists for terrorists will be added to and brought up to date. As Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Wednesday, agreements are being sought with other countries to ensure a co-ordinated response to the terrorist threat.
Sponsors of immigrants - corporates, government bodies, academic institutions - will be asked to provide details of the checks they have carried out before the immigrants are allowed in. There will also be a national register in which all those seeking to sponsor immigrant employees will have to get themselves enrolled, with details of these employees.
Extended checks are also expected to be conducted on people coming to the UK under the points-based 'highly skilled migrants' scheme.
Overseas doctors in Britain are drawn from almost 150 countries, but by far the maximum number come from India. There are 27,558 doctors from India, as against 8,188 from South Africa, 5,472 from Ireland, 2,287 from Sri Lanka, 2,000 from Iraq, 488 from Iran and 184 from Jordan.
Dr Sisir Ray, renowned primary care physician who has been in Britain for 40 years said: "There is already a form which has to be filled by every doctor testifying that he does not have a criminal record. You cannot join any healthcare service without the record being vetted. I do not thus see any logic in creating a security cell for further checks." But he did express consternation at the alleged involvement of doctors in terror plots. " Never before has such a thing happened here. But at the moment we must keep in mind that no charges have been framed or proved."