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Workhorse claim by overseas doctors

PUBLISHED: 10:51 09 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:36 03 March 2010

FOREIGN doctors working in Ipswich hospitals claim racial discrimination within the NHS has kept them from becoming consultants.

Thirty-five non consultant career grade doctors (NCCGs) - almost all of whom are from overseas - are sending a petition to Tony Blair claiming they have been prevented from progressing their careers in the UK.

FOREIGN doctors working in Ipswich hospitals claim racial discrimination within the NHS has kept them from becoming consultants.

Thirty-five non consultant career grade doctors (NCCGs) - almost all of whom are from overseas - are sending a petition to Tony Blair claiming they have been prevented from progressing their careers in the UK.

Many of the UK's 10,000 NCCGs, more than 70 per cent of whom are from abroad, work as hard as consultants, or specialist registrars, providing, they claim, the bulk of the work in the NHS, with no recognition for their skills in terms of pay or promotion. They are also barred from doing any private work.

Zimran Chowdhary, from Pakistan, chairman of the Ipswich Specialist Doctors Association (SDA), representing NCCGs, said: "It is a clear case of discrimination. We simply aren't allowed to progress any further. It is a dead-end job."

He described NCCGs as the "dogsbodies" or "workhorses" of the NHS.

The SDA is asking NCCGs across the UK to support the petition. Sixty five have signed so far, appealing to the Government to appoint an independent body to assess the situation – rather than bodies appointed by the Royal Colleges, which, the SDA claims, have a "vested interest" in blocking NCCGs. The more consultants there are working in the system, the less private work there is to go round.

Mr Chowdhary, 41, a staff paediatric and general surgeon at Ipswich Hospital, is emigrating to Canada where he says foreign doctors are more respected, after more than 12 years in the NHS. He said many NCCGs had been forced to work as GPs, having given up hope of advancing their careers in hospital medicine.

Mohib Khan, chairman of the BMA staff and associate specialist committee, representing NCCGs, said: "It is apartheid in British medicine. These doctors are victims of discrimination in the NHS. These people have been used and abused and kicked about like a football to suit the Government. It is a desperate situation."

The Department of Health had been due to issue guidelines to Trusts this summer, which would have forced them to recognise the experience and competence of NCCG doctors, but this has been delayed until next year because of a legal case going to Europe.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "We recognise that many doctors in NCCG posts feel undervalued and that it is difficult for them to return to training posts and advance their careers. We shall be undertaking a comprehensive review of the role, educational support, professional development and career pathways for these doctors.

"This will include considering ways in which recognition of and respect for the contribution NCCGs make to the NHS can be made more manifest."

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