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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 change.org 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.