UK government to withdraw clause against Indian doctors

Mumbai: Indian doctors in the UK have won a major legal battle with the government agreeing to withdraw a ''discriminatory clause'', seeking to exclude those with visas not valid beyond August 1, 2007 from the process of appointment.

The reprieve came even as the High Court of Justice was due to hear the application filed by the British Association for People of Indian Origin (BAPIO) for a judicial review and an injunction on rules affecting highly skilled migrant programme (HSMP) doctors.

Before the judge started hearing arguments, consul for the secretary of state requested a brief adjournment and accordingly, the BAPIO was informed that the secretary of state was prepared to concede.

"BAPIO accepted this offer and agreed to withdraw the case since the secretary of state gave an undertaking to the court that this clause will be removed," Ramesh Mehta, president of BAPIO, said.

"For the first time a clear message has been sent out that promises made to international medicals graduates (IMGs) must be kept. HSMP doctors were allowed to make UK their home; HSMP doctors must be treated at par with UK and EU nationals and there is n o basis for discriminating against them," Mehta said.

BAPIO had, on March 4, obtained an emergency injunction to prevent discrimination of doctors in the first round of the current recruitment for 21,000 training jobs on HSMP visa, whose visas were due for renewal before August 1.