In a reversal of sorts, young British doctors are looking to private hospitals in India for employment after they failed to be shortlisted in the current round of recruitment to the National Health Service (NHS).
Thousands of British doctors face the prospect of emigrating to various countries due to uncertainties caused by procedural flaws in the recruitment system called Modernising Medical Careers (MMC). Following severe criticism from parents of junior doctors and experts in the field, the British government has ordered a review of the system.
As results of the current round of recruitment were announced earlier this month, junior doctors in several hospitals broke down in tears when they realized they had not been shortlisted. In some areas, senior doctors and consultants refused to conduct interviews due to the anomalies in the system that excluded thousands of British doctors.
Amidst the frustration and ennui over British doctors being unable to find employment in British hospitals, hundreds of junior doctors applied and secured employment in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US.
Many have also applied to private hospitals in India. One such Indian hospital attracting British doctors is the K.G. Hospital and Post-graduate Medical Institute in Coimbatore, which has advertised for experienced doctors and surgeons.
'Hospital Doctor', an industry publication, has reported in its latest edition that many Indian hospitals have been advertising for British doctors. It quotes the Coimbatore hospital as saying in its ad: 'Salary will not be a constraint for the right candidate'.
A senior doctor told IANS that a major reason for private Indian hospitals wanting to employ Britons is medical tourism - it is culturally convenient to have a British doctor treat a British patient in India, where treatment costs are far lower than those in the west.
One junior doctor from the Oxford Deanery, who was not shortlisted for any post, sent his curriculum vitae to agencies in Australia and New Zealand last week. He was offered a yearlong surgical post at a hospital in New South Wales in Australia within a few days.
The doctor said: 'I feel I have been forced out and betrayed by consultants and the government. I still hope to come back to the UK [but] if I was offered a training programme in Australia I would stay.'
Keatley Adams, a consultant community rheumatologist in Bolton, predicted that the recruitment debacle 'could drive thousands of doctors out of the country'.
He said: 'I have been a consultant for 22 years and working in the NHS has always been a pleasure. But I have never been so unhappy as I am over Modernising Medical Careers and MTAS. Doctor-bashing has reached a new level and we are bullying our junior doctors.'
Meanwhile, as thousands of British doctors find themselves looking overseas for jobs, many doctors of Indian origin have been shortlisted in the current round of employment to the NHS.
Lakshman Raman, vice-chair (Policy) of the British Association of Physicians of Indian origin (BAPIO), told IANS: "While it is difficult to calculate numbers, we have heard from quite a number of (Indian) doctors saying they have been shortlisted for interviews.
'It is, therefore, also true that those who have not been shortlisted have not been successful because of other factors and not because of their nationality. We are quite pleased about this'.