Refugee and asylum-seeking doctors are playing an increasingly important role in the NHS, with new figures showing the number listed with the British Medical Association (BMA) has passed the 1,000 mark for the first time.
There are now nearly 10 times as many doctors on the BMA’s database of refugee doctors than there were three years ago. The association is aware of 1,009 medically-qualified refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, compared with 110 in May 2001.
More than two-thirds of them (69 per cent) have found employment, and they have become crucial in filling staffing shortfalls in the NHS.
A recent study of 138 hospitals carried out in October by the BMA, showed that seven in 10 accident and emergency departments have vacancies for staff-grade doctors.
Dr Edwin Borman, chair of the BMA’s International Committee, said: “Doctors who pursue their vocation of helping patients despite poverty, discrimination and abuse, deserve our full support.
“Many bring with them years of experience and training. And yet, even when they have jumped though all the hoops, and lived for years on benefits as low as £39 per week, they are prepared to start at the bottom in the NHS,” he said.