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Decision to save GP trainee from deportation, welcomed

BMA welcomes decision to drop deportation case

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The British Medical Association has welcomed a decision by the Home Office to drop its legal case against Singapore-born GP trainee, Dr Luke Ong.

The Manchester-based doctor was refused the right to remain in the UK in September because his application was 18 days late — an error described by the BMA as an “honest oversight”. 

Dr Ong, 31, had won an appeal but the Home Office was due to challenge this in a higher court. However, the Home Office has announced it has withdrawn the challenge.

Responding to the news, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:

“We are pleased that the government has seen sense and backed away from trying to deport someone who has spent the last decade dedicating himself to a career in the NHS. 

“The strong reaction to Dr Ong’s case from both healthcare professionals and members of the public highlighted the absurdity of a system that would seek to remove a valued doctor from the country over an administrative error.

“There is a serious shortage of GPs in England, and as we said in our letter to the Home Secretary about this case, any immigration system must be flexible and practical in its approach to hiring doctors born overseas if we are ever to solve the NHS workforce crisis.”

In its letter to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Dr Nagpaul, in his capacity as BMA Council chair, stated: “At a time when the NHS is struggling to recruit and retain enough doctors to adequately and safely meet the needs of patients, it has come to our attention that some international doctors are experiencing unnecessary barriers and delays in their visa applications and renewals. We believe that any such inflexibility in the visa process which prevents competent and much needed doctors from practicing [sic] within the NHS must be addressed as a matter of priority.”

Dr Ong was three weeks late applying to renew his visa because he said no appointment were available before his expired.

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