Letters: DoH training scheme for overseas doctors flawed

I write to express my concerns regarding the recently launched Medical Training Initiative (MTI) by the DoH.

Such posts will be for a maximum of two years, will entail 'some' training and will lead to a 'certificate of experience'. Such doctors will enter under tier 5 of the immigration system and their stay will not count towards the duration required for indefinite leave to remain.

These posts seem to have been created in response to a shortage of mainly trust-grade doctors across specialities and trusts. Although the spirit behind the initiative, in theory, seems genuine, the whole process seems to have significant flaws.

The concerns are that a two-year period will certainly not be enough for any amount of 'substantial training'. Secondly, the current certificate of experience will not leave them in any better position when they go back to their country. This is complicated by what this structured training will involve.

For such doctors to derive tangible benefits from this scheme, the training period needs to be extended to at least three years in coordination with the Home Office. They should also be allowed to undertake membership examinations of their royal colleges so that their investment in the system is reciprocated.

Such schemes must be mutually beneficial, a fair deal and not just a way to fill the gaps in service. The BMA needs to at least give some priority to such issues to improve its standing amongst international doctors.

All involved should make the rules clear before recruiting applicants because this 'terms and conditions' culture may not be as prevalent in such countries.

Otherwise, the MTI will be looked back upon as another fiasco and it will take years to clear up the mess.

  • Dr Kamal Sidhu, Sunderland GP and GP35 member

A DoH spokesman said: 'The relaunch of an expanded MTI underlines our continued commitment to the exchange of expertise and experience between the UK and developing countries.

'International medical graduates have made a valuable contribution to the NHS for most of its history.

'The MTI was never created to provide full doctor training, it is a route that allows a restricted number of doctors to enter the UK and train for a maximum of two years to gain some valuable experience that can assist them when they return to their home countries.

'It is consistent with the UK's ethical recruitment policies and helping developing countries to develop their own health services.

'The royal colleges identify and sponsor international doctors working in their speciality in developing countries. They then work with deaneries to match them to spare training opportunities in the UK that will give them specific specialist skills and experience they cannot obtain in their own health system.'

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