The UK is mulling recruiting around 50 doctors from India to tackle a staffing crisis, days after a court ruled against Indian-origin doctors, who alleged bias in Britain's medical examination system.
Health officials here will interview dozens of overseas medics over Skype to tackle a National Health Service (NHS) staffing crisis in its Accident and Emergency (A&E) department, which has left almost half of specialist training places for casualty doctors unfilled for the past three years.
NHS officials have set up an assessment centre in New Delhi and are currently considering 150 applications from Indian doctors, who are due to undergo interviews via video-link next week, The Telegraph reported today.
Health Education England said the programme hopes to recruit at least 50 trainee doctors, who will continue their specialist training in the UK before returning to India in four years' time.
The latest news of the NHS recruitment drive came amid increasing concern about the standards required for overseas doctors to work in the UK.
Last week, a study by University College London had claimed that half of all foreign doctors practicing in Britain would fail international competency tests if they were held to the same standard as UK colleagues.
The study was part of evidence that the jury went through last week before it ruled against Indian-origin doctors, who alleged bias in Britain's medical examination system.
It triggered anger among Indian-origin doctors, with the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) saying the UK government has failed to support hardworking doctors.
"On the one hand, the government has approached BAPIO to help with recruitment of Indian doctors to plug the shortage in their emergency departments and on the other, they refused to step in when such unfair claims were made on their competency," said BAPIO president Ramesh Mehta.
The group has approached British Prime Minister David Cameron to set up a meeting to discuss their concerns.
To work in the UK, doctors from outside the EU are normally required to undertake exams set by the Professional and Linguistics Assessments Board.
However, health officials running the programme said that as medical training in India follows the same curriculum as in the UK, successful candidates in the video-link interviews will not have to undergo the exams, though they will be required to take language tests.