Intended for healthcare professionals


Helping refugee doctors

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 01 April 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:887

The new asylum act may make it easier to help small numbers of refugee doctors

  1. Kate Adams, senior house officer in psychiatry (,
  2. Edwin Borman, consultant anaesthetist
  1. City and Hackney Community Services, London N1 5SL
  2. Walsgrave Hospitals NHS Trust, Coventry CV2 2DX

    The 20th century has seen populations displaced on an unprecedented scale. One country's displaced person is another's asylum seeker, and the United Kingdom, like other countries, is struggling to cope with increased numbers of refugees. About 6500 people seek asylum in the UK each month.1 If this is granted they are classified as refugees.2 Some 98 000 cases are awaiting decisions, with an average wait of 27 months.3 Among the refugees are a few doctors. Should we be doing more to help them use their skills in their adopted country?

    No one knows how many doctors are among the refugees, since profession is not recorded on arrival. About 1000 are estimated to be in the London area (personal communication, Refugee Council), most of whom are motivated professionals who want to contribute to their adopted society …

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