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GP trainee facing deportation must be allowed to stay, says BMA

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1587 (Published 09 April 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k1587
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. The BMJ

The BMA has criticised the government for threatening a GP trainee who qualified in the UK with deportation.

Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said that the government’s decision to deport Luke Ong, who is from Singapore, because of a delay in his visa process was “utterly incomprehensible.”

“This situation, in which a doctor—who has committed the past ten years of his life to studying, training, and serving in the NHS—faces deportation over what appears to be an honest oversight, beggars belief at a time when the government is prepared to spend millions recruiting GPs from abroad,” he said.

In a petition on change.org, Ong said that in September 2017 he was five months away from completing his GP training when his application for indefinite leave to remain was refused by the Home Office because he applied 18 days late.1

Ong successfully appealed the Home Office’s decision. The Home Office, however, has now appealed against that decision.

“I have given the best years of my life to the NHS, toiling relentlessly through nights and weekends for many years, paying my taxes, and contributing to wider society. Sadly, all this counts for nothing, and the Home Office are now treating me as an illegal immigrant, having confiscated my passports and university degree,” Ong said.

Over 37 000 people have signed Ong’s petition against the Home Office’s action.

Nagpaul said that, given the serious shortage of GPs in England, the Home Office needed to “move away from this hostile culture” and that “any approach to immigration rules for doctors needs to be flexible and, ultimately, practical.”

He added: “For them to take such a strict stand in this case is utterly incomprehensible.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said, “All visa applications are considered in line with immigration rules and on the evidence provided.

“Dr Ong’s case is currently under appeal and it would be inappropriate to comment further while legal proceedings are ongoing.”

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