General Practitioners from outside the European Union have been very delighted with the Medical Training Initiative. This is a process by which doctors traditionally from developing countries enter the United Kingdom and have training in the NHS for 2 years. After this they return to their home countries having benefited from training and with new ideas to bring to their health services.
Visas for this training have the safeguard that participants are not allowed to remain in the UK once 2 years have expired. This process does not lead to permanent settlement in the UK and is ethical in that it prevents brain drain from developing countries.
The government is now consulting on a proposal to reduce the visa from 24 months to 12 months. This is wholly inadvisable and seems unethical. Opportunities to gain from training within a narrow 12 months period are reduced to the point where they look impractical.
The BMA and the Royal Colleges are concerned that this shorter, ill advised period of training will invite potential trainees to look to other countries where similar safeguards are not in place to prevent permanent migration from developing countries.
At a stroke what would seem to have been an ethical procedure is being severely threatened.
The BMA International Committee is lobbying to retain the original 2 year training period.
From Terry John, Chairman of the BMA International Committee