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The West better beware, yet another form of outsourcing that could become a potential threat. It’s the turn of Indian doctors now. It began in a small way with medical tourism some years ago, // but now Indian doctors are going one step further, they are flying out during the weekends to perform surgeries. And returning with bulging pockets.

"The demand is particularly high during Christmas, when many NHS (National Health Service) doctors are on leave,’’ says N C Kumar, a Delhi-based private practitioner, who has been travelling to the UK for short stints. ‘‘These weekend jobs are called ‘locum’."

The trend is catching on in the metros. K C Janardhan, a surgeon with Manipal Hospital, Bangalore says: "I go to the UK for short stints when a doctor there is on leave, and requests me to cover for him."

What’s triggering the demand is the long waiting list for small surgeries, say doctors. The NHS has a prescribed doctor-patient ratio. But recently, it has undergone an expansion, as a result of which the number of people being covered has gone up. Also, a recent EU directive has brought down the number of hours per week a doctor ought to work. All this has led to a demand for more doctors at all levels.

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