London, March 9 (PTI): The British government has agreed to withdraw a “discriminatory clause” that would have excluded Indian doctors from the appointment process if they did not have visas beyond August 1, 2007.
What the British Association for People of Indian Origin (Bapio) sees as a significant legal win came yesterday when the High Court of Justice was hearing an application filed by the organisation for a review of the injunction.
Had it not been removed, the injunction could have affected doctors who came to the UK with highly skilled migrant programme (HSMP) visas.
As the judge began the hearing yesterday, the secretary of state’s counsel requested a brief adjournment. Bapio was then informed the secretary of state was prepared to concede.
“Bapio accepted this offer and agreed to withdraw the case since the secretary of state gave an undertaking to the court that this clause will be removed,” Dr Ramesh Mehta, the association’s president, said today.
“For the first time, a clear message has been sent out that promises made to international medical graduates must be kept. Highly skilled migrant programme doctors were allowed to make the UK their home. HSMP doctors must be treated on a par with UK and EU nationals and there is no basis for discriminating against them,” Mehta said.
The department of health had earlier introduced new rules under which employers have to prove they had no appropriate candidates from the UK and the European Union before offering jobs to non-EU candidates.
Faced with protests, the department then agreed to keep the new rules in abeyance but introduced a new clause. This clause said that to be considered for interviews, the HSMP doctors must have visas that are current on August 1, 2007.
Bapio said this would disadvantage many international doctors whose visas came up for renewal before this date. It obtained an emergency injunction against this on March 4.
Dr Raman Lakshman, vice-chair for policy, said: “We had many doctors writing to us expressing concern that they will be refused an interview even though they had been shortlisted. We, therefore, had no option but to file for the injunction.”
He added: “We were sure we would have won if the case had been heard. We are pleased that the department of health has conceded and we hope there will be no further obstacles for HSMP doctors.”
“At long last international medical graduates (in the UK) have been able to assert their right to be treated fairly. We thank our barristers, solicitors and legal team for their efficient and effective action,” said Dr Satheesh Mathew, vice-chair for operations.
A UK Visas spokesperson said that certain “transitional arrangements” had been made for highly skilled migrants in the UK to ensure that they qualified for further leave to remain in the country.