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BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 20 April 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:932
  1. Lynn Eaton
  1. London

    As overseas doctors in Britain protest that they are being thrown out by a government that is anxious only to placate its critics, Lynn Eaton looks at what the new regulations on work permits really mean

    Media headlines last summer proclaimed that 1000 British medical graduates could not find work in the NHS. In apparent response, the Home Office announced last month that all doctors from non-EEA countries who are working in training posts in the United Kingdom will need work permits.

    The announcement, which has taken everyone, including the BMA, by surprise, will have major implications for overseas doctors who are currently midway through their training in the UK.

    When they apply for a new job—and many of them are on contracts of only six months—they will always be in second place, behind UK graduates and graduates from the countries of the European economic area (the European Union countries, and Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) who are protected by the rules of the EEA. Any UK trust wishing to employ non-EEA medical staff will have to prove that no home grown doctors or EEA doctors are available to fill the post.

    Until now work permits have been needed only for consultant jobs. Doctors working in training posts (house …

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