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Mon 22 Oct 2007 09:28 AM

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UK petitions to snub overseas medics

UK doctors are lobbying to slash the number of training posts available to overseas doctors.

In an editorial in the British Medical Journal, academics argue that the government's current immigration policy is to blame for unemployment among junior doctors.

Doctors from within the UK and EU should have first pick of jobs, the paper said.

An estimated 6,000 Arab students are currently studying medicine in the UK.

The application system for junior doctors was thrown into disarray this year, as physicians applying for training jobs through the new computerized, Medical Training Application Service (MTAS) failed to get their first choice or any interview at all.

The chaos of MTAS concealed a "large surplus" of applicants for limited training places, said Dr Graham Winyard, a retired postgraduate medical dean.

Until recently, the country's National Health Service had recruited a large number of overseas doctors. The UK was a popular destination among Arab physicians seeking postgraduate training.

Dr Edwin Borman, chairman of the British Medical Association's International Committee said overseas doctors were vital to the NHS as medicine became increasingly globalize.

A policy to restrict training posts to UK graduates would be detrimental and the real fault was a lack of centralized workforce planning, he said.

"Employing doctors from abroad stops a country having a parochial view of medicine."

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