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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Vehicles of terror

For Britain's overseas doctors, all this has been bad news and the writing on the wall is already clear. It is now official that they are to be subjected to a more stringent vetting regime before they are considered for employment in the NHS. Doctors from India fear that they are likely to face greater scrutiny because of the Indian "connection'' to the London-Glasgow plot. Ramesh Mehta, president of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, acknowledged that there was a great deal of "worry" among Indian doctors. Already, some 10,000 doctors from India are struggling to find jobs as a result of new immigration rules, which are discriminatory towards overseas doctors outside the European Union. Things can only become more difficult for them.

Muslim doctors are particularly concerned. "If a doctor is identifiable as a Muslim because of the beard or the hijab, we are worried that the trust between a doctor and a patient could be compromised,'' said a spokesman for the Federation of Student Islamic Societies.

So far, fears of a social backlash have proved unfounded. Unlike Australia where apparently some patients refused to be seen by Indian/Muslim doctors, there has been no such case in Britain. But anxiety remains and as one doctor said: "Just because nothing has happened does not mean that we are not under greater scrutiny. We are all quite conscious of it.''
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