by NADEEM BADSHAH
A GROWING number of south Asian doctors are leaving the UK to work in cities like Dubai because of work pressures, according to a group for overseas medics.
The United Arab Emirates, Australia and Canada are the three most popular countries for south Asians who worked for the NHS, The British International Doctors Association (BIDA) revealed.
In 2009, doctors from India made up almost 12 per cent of the health service’s workforce.
The figure slumped to six per cent last year, according to a recent report by parliament.
The NHS Staff From Overseas study found there were now 6,417 Indian medics, 2,335 from Pakistan, 769 from Sri Lanka and 79,352 British. And overall, the proportion of staff from south Asia has fallen from 2.8 per cent in 2009 to 2.3 per cent in 2017.
Health bosses are dealing with the worst winter crisis in years due to an increase in patients being admitted to hospitals due to the cold weather.
BIDA chairman Dr Chandra Kanneganti, who has worked for the health service since 2002, said more Asian professionals are leaving due to pressure from targets and regulators.
He told Eastern Eye: “Increased pressure is one thing, there is a better work life balance which is lacking in the NHS currently.
“One consultant left on Monday (15) for Dubai, he has good pay and it will be tax free. Here it is 40-45 per cent tax and NI contributions and pension contributions.
“Also there is more regulation here than anywhere else with the General Medical Council, Care Quality Commission and NHS England monitoring.”
Dr Kanneganti, whose organisation is based in Manchester, added overseas staff feel there is also a lack of support when they face disciplinary problems.
The GP said: “In terms of performance reviews from complaints, international doctors make up 28 per cent of the workforce but 60-70 per cent are referred to the GMC for performance-related programs, a disproportionate number.
“They need to invest; the funding hasn’t reached the appropriate places like general practise and primary care.
“Also cut down management consultant costs. They made it harder to hire international GPs in 2010 with stricter visa regulations.
“Have more training places and make it attractive for international doctors again.
“Australia and Canada have an insurance-based health system so you can work how much you want to; your workload is controlled.”
Dr Mohammed Riaz* left the UK in 2015 for Saudi Arabia after working in hospitals in south-west England as a general consultant.
The father-of-three, who was born in Chennai, told Eastern Eye: “In Saudi, it is better pay and is tax free. Accommodation and my children’s school fees are also paid by my employer.
“I am also closer to home being from India for flights to see my mother.
“However there is a VAT tax system being introduced and electricity prices have gone up because of the fall in oil prices.
“And each breadwinner has to pay an annual fee for his wife and each child which keeps increasing so it’s getting more expensive; it’s not as good and secure as before.”
NHS England has vowed to increase the number of GPs it is hoping to recruit from abroad from 500 to around 3000. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt aims to have 5,000 more GPs by 2020 than it had in 2015 in England.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The government is supporting the NHS this winter with an additional £437 million as well as £1 billion extra social care funding this year.”
*Name has been changed