Sri Lanka has accused Britain of undermining its health service by failing to prevent hospitals luring away trained doctors and nurses to work in the UK.
According to its minister of health, Nimal Siripala Da Silva, the offer of big money, better facilities and prestige training establishments in the UK is too much for many Sri Lankan doctors to resist – and is causing 'a grave problem' for the nation's health service.
The claim, reported in the Observer, was strongly denied by the Department of Health, which said it had a moratorium on recruitment from Sri Lanka and was working to close a loophole that allowed some doctors to work in the UK.
There are only around 800 specialists in Sri Lanka to serve a population of 18m people. Each year around 60 doctors head to the UK, Australia and other nations in the developed world to complete their year's compulsory training to become a consultant. However, only half return, exacerbating a growing crisis in Sri Lanka's health provision.
But a spokesman for the Department of Health told the Observer: “The NHS is at the forefront of ethical recruitment. There are country-to-country agreements about where and if we can recruit surplus medical staff. There is nothing we can do if a doctor comes to the UK and seeks employment.”