Funding secured to continue helping health professionals re-qualify - Refugee Council
November 3, 2014

Funding secured to continue helping health professionals re-qualify

The Refugee Council has secured another year’s worth of funding to help refugee doctors in London re-qualify.

The good news comes as fears are expressed over a possible shortage of doctors working within the NHS.

Experts estimate it costs around £25,000 to re-train a refugee doctor, but the British Medical Association estimates it costs about £294, 164 to train a new doctor from scratch.

The continued funding has been provided by the NHS through the Health Education North Central East London Board. It will fund the Building Bridges Programme, which supports refugee health care professionals and is delivered by a partnership led by the Refugee Council.

This project started in 2009. Since then more than 350 refugee health care professionals have been supported through the programme and over 60 doctors have been helped into employment.

Refugee doctors are often experienced and knowledgeable clinicians. Re-qualifying in the UK is challenging, as doctors have to adapt to working in a second language in an unfamiliar medical culture and a complex health care system. They often lack the funds to see them through the numerous mandatory re-qualification exams and struggle to prove their medical credentials as many vital documents may have been lost or destroyed during their flight.

The new funding for the Refugee Council’s health care professionals programme will run until 31 August 2015.

Our specialist service helps refugee professionals prepare for and sit both English and clinical exams, arranges vital UK work experience (clinical attachment) in NHS hospitals, provides mentoring through a professional development group run by retired GPs and helps people find work once they have re-qualified.

In the last year alone, the successful service helped:

  • Nine refugee doctors into their first NHS jobs
  • Arrange 15 clinical attachments
  • Assist 15 doctors to prepare for PLAB 1 exam; 12 passed
  • Assist 11 doctors to prepare for PLAB 2 exam; 11 passed.

Refugee Healthcare Professionals Programme Project Manager Fahira Mulamehic said:

“We’re delighted to be able to continue this project. Not only are we able to help refugees rebuild their lives and fulfil their full potential, but in doing so we’re providing more doctors which the UK urgently needs.”

Obi, a refugee doctor from Nigeria, recently secured his first job thanks to the refugee healthcare professionals programme. Now a doctor in A&E, Obi is encouraging other London based refugee doctors hoping to re-qualify to contact the Refugee Council. He said:

“You can’t do it alone; it’s easier to surround yourself with other people who are working towards the same goal.

“If you remain steadfast and you aren’t discouraged by the challenges, and there are many, then you can be successful.”