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Indian Medical Association rejects NHS recruitment offer over brain drain concerns

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The NHS is driving an initiative to hire 2,000 doctors from India on a fast-track basis to address the chronic staff shortage in the UK’s healthcare system.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA), the largest organisation of doctors in India, has refused to participate in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) recruitment drive aimed at attracting skilled doctors from India.

Reports indicate that the NHS is in the process of hiring 2,000 doctors from India on a fast-track basis to address the severe shortage of medical professionals in the UK, and training centres have been established across several Indian cities to provide them with postgraduate training.

After completing the training, these doctors will be assigned to hospitals throughout Britain. Additionally, they will be granted exemption from the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) examination, which is a mandatory requirement for practising in the country.

However, IMA, which represents over 400K Indian medical professionals, has declined to participate in the initiative, citing concerns that the migration of skilled doctors could undermine the country’s healthcare system.

Dr RV Asokan, national president of IMA, told the Indian news channel, News18, that the apex body “is not interested in sending doctors abroad as it is against the national interest and will weaken the Indian medical system.”

“The NHS wants senior doctors who are already trained and skilled. We have politely turned down their offer.

“We would have been interested if the NHS would scout for young graduates from India. There was a mismatch in their demand and our needs,” he added.

On the state of the Indian healthcare system, Dr Asokan highlighted the alarming rates of unemployment among recent MBBS graduates in the country, and noted that IMA is focussing on advocating for opportunities for young medical graduates.

According to his calculation, India is projected to have over one million unemployed doctors within the next decade from the 706 medical colleges.

In contrast, in the UK, doctors trained overseas make up 25-30 per cent of its NHS medical workforce. The shortage of doctors in Britain is linked to various factors, including low wages, expensive training, and burnout due to heavy workload, with Brexit further aggravating the situation.

 

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