In an unflattering portrait of Indian doctors working in Britain, it has emerged that they account for the highest number of foreign doctors struck off or suspended by the General Medical Council (GMC) in the past five years, according to new figures revealed on Sunday.

The grounds for disciplinary action ranged from making wrong, often life-threatening, diagnosis; putting a patient’s life at risk because of poor communication skills; and personal misconduct, including sexual misbehaviour.

Dr. Vivienne Nathanson of the British Medical Association told the BBC that doctors who qualified abroad were “more likely to be subject to disciplinary action” though more research was needed to understand why.

“The U.K. is still short of doctors and so we must ensure that those who come from overseas are given adequate support to be able to practise medicine in the U.K. It is critical that all doctors that work in the U.K. have appropriate clinical and communication skills as well as an understanding of U.K. law and culture and of how the NHS works,” she said.

Figures, initially obtained by The Sunday Telegraph and later confirmed by GMC, showed that 63 per cent of doctors disciplined were trained abroad though they made up only 36 per cent of doctors on its register.

“We absolutely acknowledge that when it comes to the serious end of the scale, those from overseas are more likely to appear, and we have set about a series of reforms to address this,” said Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC. He said there was a move to subject overseas doctors to a more rigorous assessment of their clinical skills, competence and their command of English language.

Dr. Umesh Prabhu, vice-chairman of the British International Doctors Association, attributed the action against overseas doctors to “discrimination and racism”.

“The NHS [National Health Service] is known for having problems with discrimination and racism and I think this is part of it,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

The paper said that India had the “highest number of doctors who have been suspended or struck off the register” followed by Nigeria and Egypt.

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