Indian doctors in UK appeal to Modi over 'victimisation'

Indian doctors in UK appeal to Modi over 'victimisation'

Indian doctors based in the UK have launched a campaign against what they describe as "victimisation" and appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to raise the issue during his planned visit to the country later this year.

The campaign has been launched by Professor Narinder Kapur, a visiting professor of neuropsychology at University College London, and is being supported by the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) and British Indian Doctors Association (BIDA).

Prof Kapur, an honorary consultant neuropsychologist at Imperial College NHS Trust, has written to a group of Indian-origin parliamentarians seeking support on the "victimisation of BME (black and minority ethnic) doctors in the UK".

"Over the past few years, we have had to support a number of Indian doctors who have found themselves in this sad and distressing situation, often having to face kangaroo courts in NHS (National Health Service) Trusts, with huge financial expenditure on all sides," the letter said, which has been co-signed by BAPIO president Dr Ramesh Mehta and BIDA president Dr Sabyasachi Sarker.

"There needs to be a radical overhaul of NHS investigatory and disciplinary procedures, which in their present form are heavily biased against BME staff, and which in some people's eyes reflect a form of institutional racism," it added.

Kapur has received a positive response from a number of British Indian MPs, including Valerie Vaz and Alok Sharma, and he will be holding a series of meetings over the next few weeks.

"The Indian government must also put pressure on the British government. This issue must feature highly on the agenda when Prime Minister Modi visits later this year as it has a direct impact on India - many of these doctors still have an Indian passport and have family based there, who suffer by extension," said Prof Kapur.

In a recent report in February 2015 on how whistle-blowers in the UK's state-funded NHS are treated, Sir Robert Francis had found: "Repeatedly we hear of unaccountable managers protecting themselves and undertaking biased investigations, character assassination, lengthy suspensions, disciplinary hearings which resemble kangaroo courts, and ultimately dismissal of staff who previously had exemplary work records".

After raising a concern, BME staff were more likely to be victimised by management than staff from a white background.

The campaign group has compiled evidence of 10 major cases where Indian-origin medical staff, most of them senior consultants, suffered as a result of raising a grievance.

Kapur himself has been a victim of the system while he was Head of Neuropsychology at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge back in 2010.

He claims to have suffered "bullying and lies" when he raised concerns over the use of unqualified staff and an independent mediator awarded him 20,000 pounds compensation for the distress that he suffered.

BAPIO, which had taken the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) to court last year over lower pass rates for Indian-origin doctors, believe "differential treatment" of minority ethnic medical staff remains a concern.

"We are keen to see how things can be improved and since our court challenge last year, there has been a significant improvement in the pass rates for Indian doctors. We will continue to pursue the route of diplomatic persuasion and challenge in this case as well," said Mehta.

The groups fear that overt and covert discrimination exists when it comes to awards and promotions for Indian-origin medics as well as being denied a fair hearing in cases that come before medical tribunals.

General Medical Council (GMC) statistics have indicated in the past that doctors from India were around at times more likely to be struck off from practising in the UK than medics who have trained locally.

"International medical graduates make a huge contribution to health care in the UK and the vast majority of them provide excellent care for their patients," a GMC spokesperson said.

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