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Scottish Refugee Doctors Project

Published: 11 Feb 2016 00:01

Assistance to re-enter the medical profession

Medically trained and qualified refugees are being offered the chance to use their skills and contribute to NHS Scotland.

The New Refugee Doctors Project, run by the Bridges Programmes, in partnership with the BMA and NHS Education for Scotland will offer around 30 medics support to access training, language support and professional mentoring and the work experience they need to re-enter their profession.

Several of the current doctors on the programme specialise in trauma medicine, paediatrics, rehabilitation, general practice and prosthetics. Doctors are required to study and successfully pass strict English language, linguistic and clinical tests set by the General Medical Council before being permitted to work in the NHS and must be registered with the GMC and hold a licence.

The Glasgow-based project will help to prevent de-skilling, offer the opportunity to observe the NHS in action and opportunities to experience the reality of working as a doctor in Scotland; and overcome potential cultural and linguistic barriers while working towards passing their clinical and language exams.

Speaking ahead of the project launch in Glasgow, Minister for Europe and International Development, Humza Yousaf, said:

"The New Refugee Doctors Project will help doctors to rebuild and develop their skills and support them through the process which would enable them to work in the NHS. This helps them by supporting their integration, and we are grateful for the contribution refugees, particularly skilled ones make to the Scottish economy.

"We know that access to training and employment is crucial to integration. Employment is vital in helping people to make connections and friendships across communities; to building self-esteem; and to securing a better life, free from poverty."

Maggie Lennon, Director of the Bridges Programmes, said:

"Bridges is honoured to be able to extend our successful approach to employment and up skilling to such a talented and motivated group of men and women who only want to be able to get back into the professions they love, and in which they have been so successful at home. Appalling circumstances have brought them to our shores the very least we can do is help them re-establish themselves and at the same time help the NHS in Scotland.

"They represent expertise in a wide variety of disciplines including trauma medicine, paediatrics, rehabilitation, general practice and prosthetics. It is imperative that we can support them through the formal processes needed to have their experience, qualifications and skills recognised and accepted as quickly as possible. The three way partnership between Bridges Programmes, NHS Education for Scotland and the BMA is the best way to achieve that."

Doctor Greg Jones, NHS Education for Scotland, said:

"It is our aim to ensure the potential of refugee doctors to become valuable contributors to the NHS in Scotland if fulfilled.

"Before doctors can work in NHS Scotland they need to prove they have very good level of English and pass exams to prove their medical knowledge. NHS Scotland are working with the Bridges charity to support refugee doctors through this process.

"When a doctor moves to a new country it is not just a new culture but a new health service that they will need to understand and engage with."

Notes to editors

Bridges Programmes is the only specialist agency in Scotland working with refugees and those for whom English is a second language, promoting social and economic integration and inclusion through the workplace.

All doctors who wish to work in the UK must be registered with and hold a licence to practise issued by the medical regulator, the General Medical Council (GMC). Overseas applicants for GMC registration must demonstrate that they have the language skills necessary to deliver safe, effective and person-centred care.

The GMC has the independent statutory authority and responsibility for protecting the public by regulating the medical profession and improving medical education and practice across the UK. It does so by:

  • deciding which doctors are qualified to work here and overseeing UK medical education and training
  • setting the standards that doctors need to follow, and making sure that they continue to meet these standards throughout their careers; and
  • taking action to prevent a doctor from putting the safety of patients, or the public's confidence in doctors, at risk.

The GMC conducts the PLAB test (Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board) to ascertain the suitability of an overseas doctor to work safely in a British hospital.

The International English Language Testing System, IELTS, assesses the language ability of candidates who need to study or work where English is the language of communication.

The GMC also runs a Welcome to UK Practice programme, which is designed to raise awareness of the ethical and professional standards expected of doctors practising here.