In the U.K., there is still a slight discomfort among patients and British doctors, regarding the influx of foreigners
Both in the United States and the United Kingdom, doctors of Indian origin have considerably risen in the ranks of the medical community and the significant portion of the fraternity consists of specialists hailing from India, especially when this figure is compared with the total population of Non-Resident Indians based in these countries. However, there appears to be disparities in how well they are received. In the U.S. Indian doctors are almost preferred, but in the U.K., there is still a slight discomfort among patients and British doctors, regarding the influx of foreigners.
President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) Narendra Kumar and vice-chairman of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) Satheesh Mathew spoke to The Hindu on the sidelines of the ‘Diamond Medcon’ at the Government Medical College here, which concluded on Monday. “Indian doctors in the U.S. is almost a brand name now and senior doctors are in very powerful positions, be it politically or financially,” said Dr. Narendra Kumar, who explained that the AAPI was an umbrella group under which various Indian physicians’ groups in the country functioned.
He also listed impressive figures, such as, how the U.S.-based Indian students accounted for 12 per cent of admissions to American medical schools. “This figure is excluding the numbers who come in from abroad,” he added. In addition, the number of residents or postgraduates in training at hospitals here, comes to 20 per cent,” said Dr. Kumar.
The British scenario, however, is a bit different. “The BAPIO was formed out of need, more than anything else, for we felt that Indian doctors were consistently discriminated against,” Dr. Satheesh Mathew.
This is the same organisation that won a case in 2007 against the British Health Ministry, which overlooked merit and discriminated against non-European Union nationals when it came to jobs. The organisation would be pushing for legal reforms again, this time protesting against the system of awarding marks for the Royal College of Physicians examination. Dr. Mathew said that 63 per cent of Indian students who attempted the previous examination failed. “These are students who have undergone a gruelling admission process just to get into the college in the first place. After the three-year course, they attempt this test and this rate is simply unbelievable,” he said. The practical tests, he said, was rendered even more difficult as many of the patients were British nationals who refused to divulge details when they saw they were being treated by a foreigner.
The National Health Service in the U.K., Dr. Mathew said, was exemplary. “Whether you are rich or poor, you get treatment at the point of delivery,” he said.
He also acknowledged that there was some amount of fairness in the system as they were able to win the case against the British ministry in 2007. “There are political parties such as the British National Party that are against immigrants, so such fronts do pose a concern.” He said that the BAPIO was still collecting funds or the case, and may move proceedings after a month.