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Indian wins #1m in damages for racial bias

BMA was ordered to pay Rajendra Chaudhury the sum after refusing to represent him in a race case.
PTI | By Nabanita Sircar, London
UPDATED ON APR 14, 2004 02:02 PM IST

An Indian doctor has won a record sum of £1 million in damages for racial discrimination. Rajendra Chaudhury, a surgeon claims his career was stalled because he is an Indian. The British Medical Association (BMA) was ordered to pay Chaudhury the record sum after refusing to represent him in a case against the NHS.

Dr Chaudhury, who trained in New Delhi, arrived in the UK in 1987, but was repeatedly passed over for promotion, while British-born colleagues with same qualifications were promoted to become consultants. Many Indian doctors are known to have expressed similar grievances but have seldom taken any action.

Dr Chaudhury took legal action against the Department of Health but the case was dropped because the BMA refused to support him. He then took the union to an industrial tribunal, claiming racial discrimination, and in 2002 he won £815,000, including loss of earnings as an NHS consultant. The BMA in turn appealed on 39 grounds, but last week an employment appeals tribunal threw out all the 39 charges and raised the reward to £1 million with interest of 16 per cent.

The NHS may also be forced to compensate Dr Chaudhury who is presently unemployed and is being treated for depression. He fought the case for five years. He is also awaiting judgment in a High Court claim against Health Secretary Dr John Reid and the NHS for racial discrimination against overseas doctors.

In May the BMA is also due to face joint action by another five Indian doctors, who have been trained in India where the standard of medical training is at the same level as it is in the UK. They claim the BMA has failed to provide with legal backing.

Dr Chaudhury, 44, said the money would not compensate him for the "living hell" of having his career in "ruins". In 1991 Dr Chaudhury began training to become a consultant in urology at North Manchester General Hospital but was passed over for the post. The father-of-two said the £1 million would not make up for the "worst years of my life". He said: "Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a doctor. Now that is all in ruins. I had to give up work because of the stress of the case and my family lived on the breadline for years on state benefits. My medical career is finished and my life has been turned into a living hell."

Dr Nizam Mamode, a transplant surgeon, who resigned as a senior member of BMA in January said: "There are certain parts of the BMA which are biased against non-white doctors." However, a BMA spokesman denied the claims and justified that in the past six months the BMA had taken on 36 racial discrimination cases.

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