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GPs go forth

Home Office overturns decision to pursue deportation of trainee GP

The trainee GP threatened with deportation just months before qualifying is being allowed to stay in the UK for now, the BMA has said. 

Singapore-born Dr Luke Anthony Ong completed his GP training in the UK, but the Home Office threatened to deport him on the grounds that his application to remain indefinitely was submitted 18 days late. 

A First Tier tribunal judge had ruled in favour of Dr Ong's appeal against the Home Office's decision, however the Government department had sought to overturn that ruling at a high immigration court.

The Home Office has now agreed to drop the legal appeal and review the doctor's case to remain in the country, after mounting pressure from the profession and the general public. 

Over 300,000 people have signed a petition launched by Dr Ong on and the BMA has preivosly said that the Home Office's stance on the matter was 'incomprehensible'.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA chair, said: ‘We are pleased that the Government has seen sense and backed away from trying to deport someone who has spent the last decade dedicating himself to a career in the NHS.  

‘The strong reaction to Dr Ong’s case from both healthcare professionals and members of the public highlighted the absurdity of a system that would seek to remove a valued doctor from the country over an administrative error. 

‘There is a serious shortage of GPs in England, and as we said in our letter to the Home Secretary about this case, any immigration system must be flexible and practical in its approach to hiring doctors born overseas if we are ever to solve the NHS workforce crisis.’

A Home Office spokesperson said: 'All applications are considered on their individual merits, including any exceptional or compassionate circumstances, and in line with the Immigration Rules. 

'Dr Ong's case has been reviewed following further representations. The Home Office has applied to withdraw from the ongoing appeal proceedings and will reconsider his application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). 

'UK Visas & Immigration are in direct contact with Dr Ong in relation to his case.'

The case had come as the Government plans to spend £100,000 with private recruitment firms to bring in 3,000 overseas GPs to fill gaps in the system.

Note: This article was updated at 11.26 on 17 April to reflect the fact that Dr Ong's ILR is still under consideration.

Readers' comments (7)

  • Dr Ong would do well to consider his options carefully. The arbitrary aloof way he has been handled this time is very typical of the British approach to medics, especially those with non Anglo-Saxon names. We are not valued.

    Do yourself a favour and book a seat on the next Qantas flight outta here.

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  • Signed the .org petition so glad he can stay . I hope you can then get a partnership if you want one but seeing how it is here I’d be of to Oz or NZ . Glad the HM has seen sense

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  • Maverick

    More for your reading list...
    "Bad Pharma" by Ben Goldacre.
    "Overdiagnosed - making people sick in pursuit of health" by Dr H. Gilbert Welch.
    Makes you think... make of it what you will.
    Food for thought!
    Viper's coming down.....

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  • Vinci Ho

    You see
    Last year , there were two jobs in western politics that perhaps, nobody really wanted to take on . The first one was the US Secretary of State , previously owned by Rex Tillerson . He was constantly contradicted and bullied by a volatile and belligerent US president. At the end , he was sacked on Twitter before official announcement.
    The second job is the UK government Home Secretary. Amber Rudd had amazingly survived ‘cliff-edge’ crises, one after another , starting from the moment her big boss called for a general election last year . Multiple terror attacks since then were followed by her own re-election in her constituency in last year general election . A winning margin of only 346 votes gave her a fright for life (from her body languages, at least). Then you also had Grenfell Tower as well cyberattack on NHS .
    Every time there was a crisis , the PM had an annoying habit of pushing poor Amber to the TV silver screen to address the public .
    Austerity affected all civil services and the Home Office was of no exception. Today’s report of the Windrush generation’s deportation treatments epitomised the chaos and incompetence of Amber’s department , against a backdrop of an nonsensical obsession from her Brexiteer party colleagues on immigration issues .
    BBC news Jonathan Blake’s analysis on this Windrush saga was quoted ,
    ‘’When a home secretary describes her own department's treatment of people as "appalling" and criticises it for "losing sight of the individual", it's clear something has gone very wrong.’’

    Isn’t this also true in Dr Ong’s case ?
    Truth is it is no longer about whether Brexit is the right decision or not . Instead , it is about a group of incompetent politicians , namely the cabinet , to deliver .

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  • what I can so this is just a nonsensical mad politics and incompetence.

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  • Well said Vinci. Poor leadership led to problems everywhere, from the NHS to pot holed filled roads, crime, immigration and housing. You name it. Much as I give cautious celebration for the Home office having some common sense, it may not be a blessing for the inexperienced Dr Ong. He would do better taking a flight working in other countries both in terms of income after tax as well as avoiding manslaughter charges. Unfortunately I am too old to move.

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  • Wonder why we’re short of doctors, nurses, teachers ?
    Wonder why we have a surplus of politicians?
    Time for change - stop short changing professionals and the populace be kind please establishment and treat all fairly and with respect
    Stop the policy of picking on the poor and vulnerable.
    Stop exploiting the good will of all
    Stop trying to divide and conquer

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