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Work permit move

GPs from outside the European Union wishing to work here will only be able to if there is no 'home-grown' doctor to fill the post, under new Department of Health rules.

The rules, which come into force in July, will force doctors from outside the EU to have a work permit. Lord Warner, health minister, said investment and medical education reform was leading to increased competition for medical posts.

But the BMA and the British International Doctors Association (BIDA) raised reservations about the changes.

Dr Edwin Borman, chair of the BMA's international committee, said: 'We are deeply concerned for the thousands of overseas unemployed doctors already in the UK.'

BIDA 'strongly condemned' the haste in bringing in the rules in July. It said: 'This is a knee-jerk reaction to problems about employment of UK medical graduates.'

Top 10 tips: hardest areas to recruit a GP

1 West Midlands South 5.0%

2 West Yorkshire 4.9%

3 Leicestershire, Northamptonshire 4.7%

and Rutland

4 North-east London 4.1%

5 Kent and Medway 4.0%

6 North Central 3.7%

7 South-east London 3.3%

8 Norfolk, Suffolk 3.3%

and Cambridgeshire

9 South-east Wales 3.0%

10 Greater Manchester 2.9%

Source: NHS Information Centre, three-month vacancy rates, 2005

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