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BMA seeks doctors' experiences of migration rule changes

The BMA has renewed its call for doctors affected by family migration rule changes to share their experiences.

Terry JohnThe call comes after a number of BMA-sourced stories about the impact of the July 2012 rule changes were cited in several parliamentary debates.

Last month, peers said the ‘moving’ case studies from doctors who have taken British citizenship showed the detrimental effect of the rule change on the NHS.

The changes mean that relatives of British citizens can only settle in the UK by demonstrating they need long-term personal care that could only be provided by their relatives in the UK, and without recourse to public funds.

The all-party parliamentary group on migration last month published the findings of its inquiry into the family migration rule changes and called for a review of the rules.

Doctors leaders are continuing to press for a rethink over the changes.

BMA international committee chair Terry John (pictured above) said: ‘We have received comments from members of the Lords that the personal case studies we provided them with really brought the issue to life.

‘It is essential that we continue to put pressure on the government and we need your help.

‘The more case studies we have on how the rules are affecting our members the stronger our case.’

Are you and your family affected by the rule change? Email your stories to the BMA.


Read our case studies


No burden on the taxpayer

I am a 44-year-old British citizen at the peak of my medical career.

In July 2011, I left the UK and my full-time job as a consultant forensic psychiatrist in the north west of England.

My clinical work involved working for the NHS, the courts and criminal justice agencies, and the Ministry of Justice. I was also actively involved in teaching and training medical students and junior doctors.

So why did I decide to leave the UK? Because I was advised it would not be possible for my parents to live with me there because of the current immigration rules.

I relocated to Singapore because it allowed my parents to stay with me, uninterrupted, as long as my employment pass was valid.

My younger sister, who is also a British citizen and psychiatrist in learning disabilities and an associate medical director, is also considering moving here with her family so we can all be together. Her husband is a British citizen and a surgeon in trauma and orthopaedics.

We do not wish to make Singapore our home; our home is the UK. At the same time we cannot neglect our parents who … provided us with the best education and support. So we have no choice but to leave the UK.

If my parents would have been allowed to live with me in the UK, they would not have been a burden on the taxpayer. I earned a good salary as a specialist doctor, and so does my sister. Together we could have cared for them with ease, and at the same time contributed to British society through our work and expertise in our selected professions.

Our inability to do so is a loss, to us and our families, as well as to the NHS and the country.

Consultant forensic psychiatrist, now living in Singapore


Sponsorship offer fails

My mother lives alone in Damascus and needs an increasing amount of medical attention.

My brother and I come from Syria but are now British citizens and doctors. I have worked for the NHS for the entire 11 years I have lived in the UK.

We tried to bring our 69-year-old mother to settle in the country by explaining to the Home Office that we were happy to sponsor her. Unfortunately, our mother’s application was declined.

Doctor, Chester


No alternative but to leave

I have always wanted to look after my mother since my school days.

She brought me up in the most difficult circumstances in India after my father died.

My mother who has only primary school education and no formal employment did not marry anyone else after my father’s death. She is now 69 years old and lives alone in India as I do not have any brothers or sisters.

I came to the UK in 2001 and at present I work in the NHS as a consultant anaesthetist. My wife is a [specialty trainee] in obstetrics and we have two children.

Even to get my mother a visitor visa to spend some time with us I had to approach our local MP because the entry clearance officer refused to grant her a family visitor visa.

I was hoping to bring her as my dependent but with the rule change it is now almost impossible so the only option for me if I still want to look after her is to leave the UK. This change is very unfair and will have negative impact on many families.

Consultant anaesthetist


Independent of the state

The new visa rules make it almost impossible for my parents to come and live with me at a time they are likely to need me.

They are parents are more than 75 years of age, in good health and independent. However, they reside in Mumbai, India, and have no other family, friends or support.

I work as a consultant plastic surgeon in the NHS and I am their only daughter. I tried to sponsor them in 2009 so they could come here to settle. However, this was denied by the existing visa rules then, as although they were receiving regular financial assistance from me, the UK government decided they did not need it.

With these rules, the NHS may find, at worst, its doctors who have older parents abroad are retiring or leaving jobs, or, at best, are taking long periods of leave at short notice, which will be detrimental to service provision.

The government would be better advised to allow us to sponsor our parents. These older people will not be a burden on the system because doctors who bother going through the process of sponsoring parents are not the type who will leave them at the mercy of the state.

Consultant plastic surgeon, Hertfordshire


Breach of human rights

These immigration rule changes will potentially force me to leave my job as an NHS consultant radiologist and emigrate.

The conditions that have been laid to qualify are almost impossible to meet for anybody. [They] essentially mean that the parent should be disabled and there is nobody in the native country, including a nurse, who can provide care. Effectively, it condemns the families of British citizens to either live separately forever or emigrate.

Since I am an only child and my mother is widow, I am forced to look for options to emigrate. However, as a British citizen I will not enjoy the same rights in my native country that I once enjoyed when I was an Indian citizen. The Indian rules have never allowed dual citizenship. This new rule is totally unfair and nothing less than draconian and unheard of in a modern society.

I don’t think you should provide a nurse to care for your family thousands of miles away, in a different time zone, and unsupervised. Family ties seem to have been completely ignored in these rules.

I think we will have to return to India. My daughter is due to start secondary school and needs to be settled too. My children have known no other home than UK, and have been nationals of no other country but the UK.

Citizens such as myself from outside the EEA have already shown their commitment to UK by taking citizenship and giving up native citizenship and rights. The new rules for parents forces them to live separately from their parents forever, until their last breath in many cases. This is the worst form of human rights violation seen in any western country in modern times and can be considered as inhuman at best and slavery at worst.

I think a lot of senior doctors will be affected by these rules and face having to leave the NHS.

Consultant radiologist, Perth, Scotland


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