Service Reconfiguration

09.04.18

BMA: Home Office decision to deport trainee GP ‘beggars belief’

The BMA has called the government’s decision to deport a GP trainee due to a delay in his Visa process “utterly incomprehensible.”

Luke Anthony Ong, a 31-year-old qualified doctor who came to the UK 10 years ago from Singapore, was five months away from completing his GP training and applied for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in September 2017, but was refused by the home office for being 18 days late.

He then had his case heard at a First Tier Tribunal and although the judge said his appeal was upheld by Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, the Home Office has applied for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “This situation, in which a doctor who has committed the last 10 years of his life 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.

“The government knows there is a serious shortage of GPs in England, with too few medical students opting for the specialism, while experienced doctors reduce their hours or retire early – something which is having a negative effect on patient care.

“The Home Office must therefore move away from this hostile culture and any approach to immigration rules for doctors needs to be flexible and – ultimately – practical. For them to seemingly take such a strict stand in this case is utterly incomprehensible.”

Ong has no access to public funds or benefits and is living off his savings and the kindness of his friends. He has, however, started a petition on Change.org which has been signed 38,000 times.

In the page’s description, Ong wrote: “At a time when the NHS is struggling to train and recruit GPs, I find it absolutely ridiculous that I am on the cusp of becoming a GP, but potentially facing deportation if the Home Office press ahead with their appeal.

“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.”

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