Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

Evidence submitted by the Refugee Healthcare Professional Project (WP 13)


  1.  The Migrant & Refugee Communities Forum (MRCF) believes that to solve the demand for professionals working in the NHS the UK Government should focus on supporting and employing settled migrants and refugees who are overseas-qualified healthcare professionals already living in the UK and not recruit from overseas. MRCF welcomes the government initiative to consult on this issue. All information submitted here is submitted on behalf of MRCF.

  2.  The Migrant & Refugee Communities Forum (MRCF) is a community development agency working with migrant & refugee led community organisations. We were established in 1993 to promote the interests and rights of migrants and refugees and to strengthen their community organisations. MRCF has run a support project for overseas-qualified dentists and doctors since 2001 and has acquired experience and expertise in relation to the issues and barriers facing overseas-qualified healthcare professionals living in the UK. MRCF provides lectures, clinical training, funding, advice and guidance, study clubs, library facilities and job search support.


  3.  MRCF recognises the demand for qualified dentists to work in the NHS and the drive by the Department of Health to recruit overseas-qualified dentists. [86]

  4.  MRCF believes that the demand for dentists in the NHS can be met by settled migrants and refugees already resident in the UK and should not be met by international recruitment. Resources should be given to assisting overseas-qualified dentists already settled in the UK. The costs of the IQE[87] exams facing dentists are very high (IQE A—£600; IQE B—£650; IQE C—£1,550). There are no concessions for refugee dentists. The Department of Health subsided the IQE for all candidates in 2005 but this subsidy no longer exists and candidates have to bear the entire cost. MRCF has a database of 1,220 overseas-qualified dentists already living in the UK. Of these 136 have already passed all stages of the IQE and 29 of these are working. We therefore have 107 job-ready dentists looking for employment and 1,084 dentists working towards their IQE exams.

  5.  There are many experienced overseas-qualified doctors settled in the UK and recruiting from overseas would lead to wasting the skills of these doctors. The British Medical Association/Refugee Council Refugee Doctor Database currently have 1,073 asylum seekers/refugee doctors registered with them. Of those 77 doctors are currently working in the NHS and a further 219 doctors are job-ready[88].

  6.  The majority of overseas-qualified healthcare professionals we see are keen to work in their profession and want to work in the NHS. Many have years of experience and would be a huge asset to the UK. Refugee and overseas-qualified healthcare professionals who have settled in the UK are more likely to remain in the UK than those who are brought from abroad as a temporary measure. They are therefore a more suitable solution to the problem of recruitment.

  7.  Recruiting refugees and settled migrants already living in the UK also supports the Department of Health policy on ethical recruitment. Issues surrounding the "brain drain" from developing countries and "poaching" overseas-qualified healthcare professionals would be tackled. Refugees did not have a choice to leave their country of origin and settled migrants are often living in the UK through marriage and other settled migration routes.

  8.  All these principals concerning recruiting overseas-qualified healthcare professionals from refugees and settled migrants already living in the UK are equally applicable to all other healthcare professionals—nurses, allied health professionals etc Supporting and recruiting from this pool of labour brings diversity into the NHS and ensures BME communities are represented in the health sector.

Natasha David

Refugee Healthcare Professional Project, The Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum

14 March 2006

86   More Dentists Now, More Dentists Later (09 November 2005) Department of Health press release. Back

87   IQE: International Qualifying Exam. Dentists have to pass three International Qualifying Exams. The first is theoretical, the second practical on manikins, and the third is clinical on patients. Most dentists take an average of two years to pass these dental exams, and require extensive support and training to be able to achieve good results. Back

88   In order to work in the UK, all overseas healthcare professionals have to pass an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. Following this, doctors have to pass 2 Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) exams, one theoretical and one practical. A lack of opportunities for clinical training hinders doctors' chances of passing the practical exam. Back

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