NHS trust seeks cash for refugee doctor retraining

A Birmingham NHS trust is seeking Government funding for a pioneering
project to tackle a shortage of inner city doctors by recruiting refugee
doctors in the West Midlands.

The Birmingham Specialist Community Health NHS Trust together with the West Midlands
Refugee Council has placed a £500,000 bid with the Home Office’s challenge fund
for a five-year scheme covering specialist training of refugee doctors.

Jo Thanki, the trust’s community development manager and leader on HR and
diversity, said, "We’ve applied for funding and hope to hear from the Home
Office in July whether we’ve been successful in the first round of

Under the terms of the project, the trust wants to train up to 40 refugee
doctors in the West Midlands. This would involve a mentoring scheme which would
show refugee doctors how the NHS works, private English language classes and
clinical placements with hospitals in the region. Refugee doctors on the scheme
would also have the opportunity to attend medical classes at Birmingham
University to upgrade their skills.

Refugee doctors have to pass professional linguistic assessment boards exams
before they can register with the General Medical Council and work in the UK.

Thanki added, "The main employment barriers facing refugee doctors are
taking GMCand English language exams. If our project is successful, it would
give refugee doctors the chance to take these exams as well as giving them
relevant experience."

The Home Office launched its £850,000 challenge fund to support the integration
of refugees in March this year.

By Karen Higginbottom

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