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Indian, Iraqi Medics may Face Terror Stigma Overseas

Overseas doctors, especially Indians, Jordanians and Iraqis, will face prejudice in the wake of the June 29 and 30 failed bomb attacks in London and Glasgow.

According to the medical journal Lancet, there is a danger of such incidents being used as an excuse to discriminate against overseas doctors who are a part of the United Kingdoms National Health Service (NHS).

According to a report in the BBC, a major investigation has been under way in the United Kingdom since the two failed explosions.

The suspects are doctors or medical students, among them people who qualified in Jordan, India and Iraq.

Overseas doctors have started voicing concerns over the new stringent checks for migrants wishing to work in the NHS.

Dr. Pasad Rao, the chairman of the British International Doctors' Association (BIDA), said: "We have some concerns that what has happened in the past weeks will subconsciously have some negative effect on the minds of the public and the professionals we work with."

Dr Maadh Aldouri, the president of the British Arab Medical Association, said that more checks might discourage overseas doctors from coming to work in the UK. But he thought it was unlikely that the public had lost trust in overseas doctors.

Experts fear recent media coverage of the events could compound prejudices against doctors from abroad that they say already exist.

Although, they admit that criminal checks may be a necessary counter-terrorism measure, discriminating against doctors on the basis of race, religion, or country of birth should not be encouraged or permitted.

Last year, because of a shortage of posts, the government told NHS trusts not to employ overseas junior doctors if there were suitable British or European applicants for positions.

The Lancet says: "Such a situation is shameful since the NHS has long relied on overseas doctors t o fill workforce gaps."

The most recent figures show that over a third (almost 128,000) of the 277,000 doctors on the UK's register have been trained abroad.

Foreign doctors who have qualified outside the EU have to pass a series of linguistic and clinical tests before they can register with the General Medical Council.

NHS trusts are also required to carry out identification, passport credentials and criminal records checks on the doctors they employ.

Following the suspected failed bomb attacks in London and Glasgow, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said background checks would be expanded, and he called for an immediate review of NHS recruitment.

Dr Edwin Borman, the chairman of the British Medical Association's International Committee, said the British medical profession was doing everything it could to prevent discrimination.


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