UK:Asian Docs win battle as UK sheds visa bias

Docs win battle as UK sheds visa bias
LONDON: Indian doctors in the UK have won a significant legal battle as the Blair government agreed to withdraw a “discriminatory clause” which would have excluded them from job interviews and the appointment process if they did not have visas beyond August 1, 2007.

The High Court here was to hear on Thursday the application filed by the British Association for People of Indian Origin (BAPIO) seeking permission for a judicial review of the injunction on rules affecting Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) doctors.

As the judge began the hearing, counsel of the secretary of state requested a brief adjournment. BAPIO was then informed that the secretary of state was prepared to concede.

“BAPIO accepted this offer and agreed to withdraw the case since the secretary of state gave an undertaking to the court that this clause will be removed,”Dr Ramesh Mehta, BAPIO president, said on Friday.

Mehta said: “For the first time, a clear message has been sent out that promises made to international medical graduates must be kept. Doctors under the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme (HSMP) were allowed to make UK their home; HSMP doctors must be treated at par with UK and EEA (European Economic Area) nationals and there is no basis for discriminating against them.”

Last Sunday, BAPIO obtained an emergency injunction to prevent discrimination of doctors on HSMP visa whose visa were due for renewal before August 1 in the first round of the current recruitment for 21,000 training jobs.

BAPIO said this was necessary because while the health department had agreed to keep the new rules discriminating against HSMP doctors in abeyance, it had introduced a new clause stating that to be considered for the interview these doctors must have HSMP visa that was current on August 1, 2007.

BAPIO believed that this would disadvantage many international doctors whose visa came up for renewal before this date and hence filed for and obtained this injunction.

extract from TOI of 09 March 08

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