Intended for healthcare professionals


Creating a level playing field can be an uphill task

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 13 April 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:874
  1. Caroline White
  1. London

    As NHS trusts are told to give priority to employing UK and EU citizens over doctors from other countries, Surinder Sharma, the NHS's equality director, is facing tough times

    Ask Surinder Sharma, national director of equality and human rights at the Department of Health, what achievement he is most proud of since he took up his newly created post 18 months ago and he doesn't hesitate.

    “It's seeing the issues being given greater importance. People are coming to us now,” he says, alluding to the ministers and officials in charge of policy who are starting to seek him out, unprompted, to ask about how to promote equality and diversity in the health department and the NHS.

    If this seems rather modest, it testifies to the fact that much of his job so far has been about getting a foot in the door on issues that the NHS has tended to view as “difficult.” The most recent example of such a difficult issue was the announcement by the health department that every doctor from outside the European Union wishing to work in the United Kingdom will need a work permit. From this month, trusts will have to prove to the Home Office that they could not find a good enough candidate from the United Kingdom or the EU, a move that has …

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