Plight of young indian doctors in UK

Life is precious. Every person has a genuine interest in excelling in their career and to secure a promising future. There is nothing different about the medical professional too, as they are constantly looking forward for a better future, as other professionals in India. The career overseas, especially UK looks promising for many to start with.

Even if they have genuine interests in acquiring expertise in their fields and making good fortune to return home for survival, since the prevailing condition in India in most of the doctors’ opinion, is not conducive for a head start.

As you all are aware, that securing a postgraduate seat in spite of all odds in renowned medical colleges is almost a dream come true to only handful of doctors, prompt others to look into the prospects for their career overseas.

Quite natural, nobody can deny this, because statistics showed number of graduating undergraduates is in far greater numbers than the available meager postgraduate seats. Medical doctors are of genuine opinion and making efforts for any of the representatives in the central or state government to press about this situation or at least show some concern about the precarious future the doctors are pushed into, in there.

In the burst of impulse, to find a meaningful life out as a medical doctor, many failed to analyze the prevailing situations in other countries before deciding to take up the career in foreign countries. Funny it looks, but the hard truth is how come we can graduate more medical professionals, as a developing country, to amass the number needed to cover WHO standards, with higher professional qualifications, even when the developed countries are struggling to meet the standards.

It reflects the sad truth, that there is no effective organization to control the number of graduating doctors and there is no effective plans to incorporate all the doctors in the public stream in the service of the people, for which the government had spent a lot of money. It’s not just the law or enforcement will restrict them to serve the home country, it’s the same law which should protect and provide them a better life in the society for all the dedication, hard work and time they have put in this noble profession. The answer is well known to all of us, just ask yourselves? Most of the doctors are left with no other option and seek a better future in the smaller world at large.

With a heavy heart, we find some kind of satisfaction and solace, in sharing what we as doctors have understood and undergoing at present in UK. As others, with huge investments and lots of responsibility on the tender shoulders, landed with bright prospects and future to the medical career dreams, suddenly doctors found themselves in a loose ground hanging without support, miles apart from the loved ones, still looking out for a rope to hold on, for more than a year (one full year). This is not to jeopardize the bright chances of budding young doctors out of prejudice or contempt, we just want to help and make them aware of the pathetic situation prevailing here, and to sternly warn the young doctors who have high hopes in getting substantial training posts, out of love for my fellow country men.

For a very long time, our inner hearts fluttered to share this information to our fellow doctors, but circumstances and false hopes had really prevented us from sharing this truth. But we felt it is the high time to bring the failing minds, drooping shoulders and depressed state of unemployed Indian doctors to limelight, because even the locals over here are sounding concerned and televised a mind bothering programme in BBC itself.

Surely, it won’t be falling on deaf ears, as it happened before, because as you read you will find hard pressing pile of facts. We like to take the reader from the very beginning, starting from the dreams of entering into UK for living. Imagine an expenditure of a lengthy holiday in a foreign country? Every doctor will spend considerable amount of money for IELTS and PLAB part 1 exam in India, not aware of the real situation in UK, in spite of occasional warnings from the caring dear ones. It’s not a great deal for many in India, but the real situation unfolds after their first step in Heathrow. They will be just pushed into make shift sheds attics etc. in Eastham for ?60 a week with the kind of facilities you have never imagined back home. Just strolling in the high street of Eastham, you can literally bump into hundreds of Indian doctors carrying high hopes on their shoulders, think might be thousands now in Eastham.

Money matters everything, you will be plundered everywhere, be it a training course for PLAB 2 exams ?300 approx. and of course PLAB 2 exams fees ?470. This is not the end, but the truth is, it’s just the very beginning of series of sufferings and mental torture.

Highly trained Indian doctors will clear PLAB 2 without a hurdle. There is no question about that. The real story unfolds here. Once the doctor finishes it of, they will start looking out for a non-existing future, not knowing what to do except for applying for jobs. In the meantime, all the doctors will opt for clinical attachment / observer (unpaid post) under the field of their interest under some willing consultants in various hospitals, which now-a-days will take at least take 6 months to start with. This is to know about the working system of NHS and to get familiarize with the prevailing practices, social differences and attitudes so on and so forth, but all of the doctors knows that its to get the much wanted local references for the job and of course to get the breakthrough for the first job. It became a history now and now-a-days no doctor is getting employed during their clinical attachment. The new trend is that few hospitals in London and others are charging around ?150-?300 for 6 weeks of attachment, claiming the money is for paper works. But as for the accommodation, it will around ?300 in cities and around ?200 in rural areas for 4 weeks, with additional ?50 monthly if you are quite calculative.

Now it’s to get the limited registration with GMC, the top priority in the doctors list for practicing medicine in UK under supervision (i.e. paid junior doctors job). It is not mandatory that they will give you GMC registration by just passing PLAB 2 exams. So what’s next? Every doctor will start to apply for jobs, be it training or non training posts, temporary or permanent ones, locum or substantive or trust grade or clinical fellows, so on and so forth. It is still a mystery for almost all the applying doctors, to know what is required for a short listing for interviews, but we gained some insight of what is happening in here. Even though most of us will fit into the devised short listing criterions, almost all the hospitals without doubt will extend their criterion which is not specified anywhere, and not known to anyone except them. It’s not in the hands of the doctors to do anything about that, except to wait for their luck. It is perfectly acceptable to the conscience of anyone to know that British Doctors should be given first preference in their jobs. The good fact is that in the coming years (even now in Scotland) there is more number of medical students than the available junior doctors’ jobs in here. Where do other foreign doctors fit in? Many of the times the doctors are told that GMC registration is a short listing criterion and for getting a GMC limited registration a doctor need to show a job offer letter from the employing hospital, which is absolutely absurd. No official in here has an answer for this question.

And again most of the jobs are stand alone 6 months posts except for only a limited number of rotational posts. On an average, doctors here are making around 500 odd applications in a span of around 6 months, which now-a-days for some, have become 1000 odds even without a single short listing for interview. It is a mind bothering fact and in the same time surprising to see how they can keep up with their spirits? If any of them are lucky enough to get a job, in spite of all odds, which is happening very occasionally here, their misery, ends temporarily.

The spending spree continues even for the lucky ones, to get the limited registration, fee is ?400 approx for 1 year to the GMC, only with which they can convert their visitor visa status to a permit free training for 1 year for ?250 in immigration department. If, say, the doctors are applying for extension, now they are issuing visas only for the specific number of days only, even it is a single day or a single month, for another ?250, on every extension. Without a job in the first 6 months here, if they are going for an extension of visitors’ status, it will cost them the same ?250 with a confirmatory letter for their stay (clinical attachments from hospitals, MRCP, MRCS exams etc.)

From the job prospect view, how can anyone miss out this important information about the application process without sharing? From what the doctors came to know from medical staffing that there are minimum of 700 – 1000 application for a single post. Imagine where the new doctors will fit in this pile of applications. On an average it is now taking up to 1 – 1? years to get the hard fought first jobs, at least to repay the debts incurred during the process. It doesn’t make much of a difference even if someone has a kith or kin to care for them here, our plain advice is ‘do you mind your relationships strained?’ because no other professional even in here can empathize what overseas doctors are undergoing. Please double check the prospects of overseas junior doctors with some reliable persons who keep abreast of vastly ever-changing situation, before jumping into conclusions.

The hard reality is that, many of the doctors who have done a stand alone post for 6 months, are without a job in here, in spite of crossing all these hurdles. Life becomes more pathetic even beyond the words which can be put on this paper, when you are left without subsequent jobs. It’s not the thing which we intend to go in detail since it will be very difficult to perceive the ever-changing hostile situation prevailing here.

We hereby request, the editor, to bring this important information to the budding young promising doctors who wish to come or in the process of entering UK for further training, should completely understand the prevailing pathetic situation over here before making a decisive move.

The programme recently aired in BBC regarding the situation of the overseas doctors will provide adequate information for the doctors who are reading this plight with a suspicious eye. It’s just the tip of an iceberg, the real situations is much worse than what is actually shown in that programme. Thanks for BBC, you can find a part of programme in Approximately statistics which was shown in the programme reveals that 3,500 doctors in the year 1999 appeared for PLAB part 1 exams and it has increased to 12,500 doctors in the year 2003. In spite of the growing concerns regarding the jobs, the GMC is planning to conduct PLAB part 2 exams on every day of a week, which was twice in a month last year. Now its 5 days a week, you can imagine the influx of surplus number of doctors in here, mainly from India. The government of UK unveiled the NHS plan to recruit only consultant and specialist doctors in only specified departments to fill in the gaps of national health system, and it is nothing to do with the young doctors, be it a fresh undergraduate or postgraduate, looking out for a bright future. To be honest there is no hope waiting for especially young overseas junior doctors. The official has rightly pointed out that it is the duty of GMC to respond to the ever increasing demand of doctors to take up the PLAB exams and not their concern to curtail the exams; it is the duty of responsible medical doctors to get the information. This information is to make it clear to everyone who wants to know about the situation and it is up to their clear conscience to decide their fate. Can any one with sound mind; will undergo this much of risk, to spend so much of money and to clear these exams, for nothing?

If we dig out our old chests to know who is at fault and who is to blame for, surely we can point our fingers towards our personal decisions and to many different known and unknown factors which influenced us and as a society at large. We just leave the remedy for the future of all the graduating young doctors to the much trusted Government of India, to find some meaningful solution and of course to the ambitious young students about their future. Life is precious and no one will like to waste it by making haste decision which they will repent it later.

We feel this is our moral responsibility towards our beloved fellow country men.

U F K Batcha
M U J Sathick
N N S Najmudeen
M Rajaram

(Please don’t nag us with the same questions for which we have cleared our part and please do pass it to as many friends as you can to be a part of something important to create awareness for our fellow Indians. Most matters are not explained explicitly due to sensitiveness and we request our readers to get it cleared from your own trusted sources. We tried our best to post it to our national newspaper and as usual we didn’t get the response we wanted. So by this, it is left to the young doctors themselves to be responsible for their actions and finally we want to make it clear that Govt. of UK has nothing to do with your personal decisions. Peace)

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