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Covid-19: Refugee doctors join NHS through innovative scheme

BMJ 2021; 375 doi: (Published 06 December 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;375:n2993

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Re: Covid-19: Refugee doctors join NHS through innovative scheme

Dear Editor
It was great to see that three of the 16 refugee doctors who have joined the Midlands medical support worker (MSW) scheme have gained GMC registration and progressed to NHS training roles. Over the last few years we have repeated the scheme we set up in Stoke-on-Trent in 2004 to support and enable refugee doctors to work as health care support workers in general practices. The funds from the NHS paid for their full-time employment, the individual training to pass IELTS and PLAB 1 & 2 examinations, and the host practices' support and supervision. The refugee doctors in the first cohort took a maximum of four years for all four doctors (from Afghanistan and Albania) to progress into Foundation training with GMC registration; two are now psychiatrists and two general practitioners. The two refugee doctors from Sudan & Iran for whom we repeated the general practice support scheme in 2017 onwards, have now both entered GP specialty training. Working as a health care support worker helped the refugee doctor participants to become familiar with the NHS system, to talk to ordinary people and clinicians to improve their English language skills. We desperately need more individualised support packages for refugee doctors who have arrived in the UK and have leave to remain to regain their credentials and GMC registration to join the NHS as practising doctors; so many are working as taxi drivers or in warehouses many years on without any much needed support for their career progression and GMC registration being offered to them.

Competing interests: No competing interests

11 December 2021
Ruth Chambers
Retired GP
4 Dellbrook Court, Clayton Road, Newcastle-u-Lyme