Covid-19: call for fast-track registration of refugee doctors in UK
Hundreds of refugee doctors have called on the government and the General Medical Council to fast-track their accreditation so they can help the NHS tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. refugee doctors in UK
The doctors, who gained their qualifications overseas, say some of them have been forced to work as taxi drivers or in takeaways because the reaccreditation process in the UK takes too long, and is both expensive and onerous.
During a parliamentary debate on the coronavirus bill on Monday the health secretary, Matt Hancock said he would discuss the proposal to expedite qualified doctors from overseas into the NHS with health regulators, “to see whether we can find a way through for the period of this crisis”.
Dr. Mohammad Haqmal, a refugee from Afghanistan, who is a public health expert, said: “I’m doing data analysis. My background is in HIV. I believe I have a lot to contribute to helping with the Covid-19 pandemic. With no cure and no immunization at the moment, community awareness is key to tackling this pandemic.”
He said some migrants might be marginalized and not properly integrated into the system and so might not be receiving the correct public health messages about social distancing and staying at home.
“A mapping exercise to assess who in the UK is high risk if they contract the virus would be helpful,” he said. “I haven’t gone through the process of reaccreditation to practice as a doctor in the UK because it is expensive and takes a lot of time. I’m lucky because I’ve been able to get a job doing medical research. But I know many other overseas qualified doctors who are working as shopkeepers or taxi drivers.”
nother doctor, Charles from west Africa, who did complete the medical conversion exams and is practicing in the UK, is researching some aspects of Covid-19 with colleagues in the US. “We’re looking at trying to prevent some of the complications of Covid-19 such as lung fibrosis,” he said.
He added that part of the GMC conversion exams for overseas doctors known as Plab 1 and Plab 2 – Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board – focus on the nuances of the English language rather than on medical expertise. They cost £230 and £840 respectively, and courses medics must take before sitting these exams can cost in the region of £2,000 and upwards. refugee doctors in UK
“I was listening to the BBC 24/7 to perfect my English language to pass these exams,” he said. “It was about techniques, about playing the game. If you are a qualified doctor you should be able to work in the UK during the pandemic. So many overseas qualified doctors I know are driving Ubers or have opened takeaway restaurants because it’s so difficult to get reaccredited here. I know a few doctors from Afghanistan who have opened fish and chip shops and some Congolese doctors who have become pastors.”
During Monday’s parliamentary debate the Liberal Democrats’ acting co-leader Sir Ed Davey called on the government to expedite matters so that fully qualified doctors from other countries would be able to help out in the NHS.
“The government must fast-track these highly qualified professionals so they can work in the NHS. They are able and willing to play their part in tackling this pandemic,” he told the Guardian. “The veto on asylum seekers working is outrageous. If we have asylum seekers who are qualified doctors why not bring them forward?”
Anna Jones of RefuAid, which supports refugee healthcare specialists and other professionals into employment with loans for accreditation and other things, has called on Hancock to fast-track fully qualified overseas doctors and nurses into NHS jobs.
“We have 230 doctors who are fully qualified in their own countries. Most have many years of experience as doctors. It can take these doctors 12 to 18 months to get their language qualifications and their Plab 1 and Plab 2 qualifications,” she said.
“A lot of these doctors have clinical experience in high-pressure, low-resource settings. I can understand that it’s important to ensure that people’s medical qualifications are legitimate. We have obtained copies of the doctors’ qualifications from their home countries.”
Una Lane, the director for registration at the GMC, said: “We’re working hard to help qualified doctors join the frontline to provide vital care to patients.
“We have always worked closely with refugee doctors and their representative organizations to help them register with us so that they can practice here and care for patients in the UK. We are continuing to do this but are also pointing them to advice from NHS England about roles that they could undertake that would not require registration or a license to practice in the short term.” refugee doctors in UK
“Refugee doctors are eligible for discounts. We cover the fees for EPIC verification and offer two free attempts at Plab 1, with Plab 2 discounted to half price. The application fee can be paid in 10 installments if requested.”
A government spokesperson said: “We are hugely grateful for the vital contributions that doctors are making in the national effort to tackle coronavirus, and are considering a wide range of further measures, at pace, as part of our response. There are no immigration checks for anyone requiring testing or treatment and they will be treated for free.” levant
source: the guardian levant