The Scottish National Party raised its fears that the new immigration rules would force many overseas doctors to quit the UK, after they were informed that 13% of the country's medical workforce had qualified outside Britain.
The opposition MSPs warned the new regulations could have "serious implications" for the NHS. Currently almost 15,000 doctors, mostly from the Indian subcontinent but also from Africa, are working in British hospitals while training to become specialists. The new rules, announced by the UK Government last month, would require every doctor from outside the EU to have a work permit. They would only receive one if a hospital could prove that no applicant from the UK or the EU could fill the vacancy.
SNP health spokeswoman Shona Robison MSP has written to Health Minister Andy Kerr on the issue. She stated that according to the General Medical Council an estimated 13% of Scotland's medical workforce was non-UK qualified. This she felt would have serious implications for their NHS, which is crying out for new recruits in order to sustain services across Scotland.
The British Medical Association said the new rule is causing a great deal of confusion and anxiety among overseas doctors in the UK. Dr Graeme Eunson, chairman of the BMA's Scottish junior doctor committee, said that there has been not enough consultation and no concern or consideration for doctors from outside the EU who are currently studying or working in the UK. He felt that it important to develop a policy that bases the number of doctors coming to the country on the needs of the NHS.