| A Bapio protest against the UK policy. (File picture)
London, Feb. 10: Friends of Imran Yousaf, a young Asian doctor who hanged himself because he could not get a job, spoke to The Telegraph today about the desperate circumstances that drove him into taking his own life.
“The British government killed him,” said an emotional Dr Rajendra Chaudhary, who received distraught emails from Yousaf shortly before his death.
Chaudhary thought better of his allegation and softened it to: “I should say the British government was responsible for Imran’s death.”
Yousaf came to Britain from a village near Lahore in 2004 and when the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (Bapio) took legal action last year against the home office and the department of health, he was the only doctor who was willing to allow his name to be used as an individual case in the court proceedings.
Although Yousaf was from Pakistan, Bapio interpreted the expression “Indian origin” to include “anyone who originated from the Indian sub-continent”.
Yesterday, the high court ruled against Bapio and effectively stated that 16,000 overseas junior doctors, 80 per cent of them from India, would now be required to go home. Many, who have spent two years or more in the UK taking expensive examinations as a prelude to working in the National Health Service, now feel they have been badly let down by Britain and that their careers have been ruined.
Nevertheless, Bapio’s president, Dr Ramesh Mehta, said his organisation, which had spent £56,000 in taking legal action, would try to raise a similar amount to proceed with an appeal.
He also urged the Indian government to back Indian doctors in the UK, all Indians, and take “sterner action”.
The tragedy of Yousaf, described as “very pleasant, very bright and very talented”, illustrates the sense of desperation that has gripped many junior doctors. Although this could not be confirmed, The Telegraph has been told there have been two other suicides and further similar tragedies could not be ruled out.
The overseas doctors came to Britain in response to advertisements by the British government but the law was changed in March last year so that if there are vacancies, preference will be given to local British applicants followed by candidates from the European Union.
British government ministers have said the UK has a right to change immigration rules retrospectively — a stance backed by yesterday’s high court ruling.
In emails sent to Chaudhary, Yousaf outlined his increasingly hopeless situation. He found he was in no position to pay back debts of between £12,000 and £13,000 he had accumulated in order to live in Britain and all his attempts to find work were rebuffed.
Some doctors, recognising his plight, had found him space to stay in a surgery in Bedford. On January 19, one of them unlocked the surgery to discover the body of Yousaf, who was in his late twenties, hanging from the ceiling.
He did not leave a suicide note but near him was a letter he had received only a day or two ago from the home office, telling him he would receive no further extensions to his visa to stay in Britain.