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Call over jobless doctors.

Byline: Helen Sturdy

Scores of unemployed refugee doctors could be living on Teesside, a new study has revealed.

The Northern and Yorkshire region is home to the third highest number of refugee and asylum seeking GPs in the UK.

But out of 85 living in the area, only three are employed, the British Medical Association has revealed.

Today Teesside health experts said support and training must be ensured if the skills of the unemployed specialists are to be harnessed.

Dr Nigel Rowell, for the BMA, said: "We have Spanish doctors employed here and it takes a significant amount of investment in language skills and making sure they are clinically up to speed. The public would wish to be reassured that any asylum seekers are of an appropriately trained standard.

"I do think we should be embracing refugees for their skills but they do need to be trained and the training must be tailored to them."

The BMA report found 955 doctors who are refugees or seeking asylum are living in the UK but only 57 are working in the NHS.

The news comes amid a national shortage of GPs but across Teesside, Spanish doctors have been brought in to lower vacancy rates.

Middlesbrough has space for more than 100 GPs and currently only has vacancies for three.

Colin McLeod, chief executive of Middlesbrough Primary Care Trust, said: "What the person seeking asylum does not bring with them is the evidence. Because of the lack of documentary evidence, it is a much longer, drawn-out process."

In Middlesbrough, the Haven Medical Practice provides health services for asylum seekers.

The details of any refugee health workers identified are passed on to a North-east programme to help their accreditation into the NHS.

Dr Edwin Borman, chairman of the BMAs international committee, said: "The skills of medically qualified refugees are badly needed and it's ironic that so many are unable to work.

"It costs pounds 250,000 to train a British medical student to become a doctor, but as little as pounds 10,000 to prepare a refugee doctor to practise."
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jun 18, 2004
Words:346
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