Dr Ramesh Mehta OBE
President of British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin
As President of BAPIO, Let me share with you some good work BAPIO is doing in the background while the COVID-19 crisis goes on.. This is in addition to the communication and advice members would have received from Prof Parag Singhal, BAPIO General Secretary.
• We were first to write to CMO expressing solidarity and applauding Govt efforts. Of course, as membership organisation we had to raise concerns felt by members regarding staff testing and PPEs. We will be writing to Sir Simon Stevens again in the coming week to raise further points and concerns communicated to us by our members.
• BAPIO is active, alert and listening. We have quickly produced an advice line for members as well as an excellent mental well-being document which can be used by all NHS staff. During this crisis time we should have positive attitude and work professionally for the benefit of our patients and population. We are very proud of the NHS staff who are doing best in the circumstances. To be fair to Govt after slow start things seem to be moving faster. Grateful thanks to BAPIO think tank for amazing discussions on all burning issues.
• A group of 23 trust doctors contacted BAPIO that they were excluded from shortlisting for surgical training posts because they had more than 4 years of experience. Our MDS legal team and BAPIO Vice President Satheesh Mathew investigated it and confirmed that there is legal case of discrimination. We contacted the deanery responsible for national shortlisting about this and said we are prepared to challenge by going to Employment Tribunal. On Friday I had a phone call from the PG dean that they accept the mistake and all these doctors will get a letter stating that they will be considered for short listing. This is a reversal of many years of policy and all thanks to
Dr Mathew and MDS legal team whose opinion led to a quick change of heart by the HEE!
• BAPIO has been contacted by some suspended doctors offering their services even on voluntary basis at this crisis time. On Friday I had call with GMC CEO Charlie Massey. He has agreed to look into this on individual case basis depending on the severity of disciplinary action. It is possible that many of these doctors will get temporary registration to practice. They need to write to GMC either directly or through their representatives. They can give BAPIO reference.
• BAPIO was contacted by a group of overseas doctors who came to Manchester to take PLAB 2 but the test was cancelled. They are now stranded and running out of funds to sustain. BAPIO NW division under leadership of ever kind Dr J S Bamrah have come to the rescue and assistance being organised. Some of our colleagues have offered accommodation in their homes and some others have offered funds. Mind you they are from different nationalities including Indians. We will keep you posted on this.
• I spoke to GMC CEO Charlie Massey to use the stranded overseas PLAB doctors at this crisis time in the NHS hospitals. He has agreed to immediately (Friday) write to the CEO if these doctors could be offered paid voluntary jobs.
• The Indian High Commission contacted BAPIO requesting support for the High Commission staff of 200 and lot of stranded anxious visitors and students for advice on health issues. From tomorrow we are launching an online advice project lead by Prof Parag Singhal. We have a panel to help but if we need more support, we will ask you.
• You would also have noticed active role BAPIO is playing in the movement against discriminatory and punitive Health surcharge and the letter we sent to the Prime Minister.
These are only some of the stories of the work BAPIO carries on all the times. It also shows our influence and reach to establishment but more importantly the principle that we stand up for fairness and always eager to provide support to needy. Our members and divisions have their eyes and ears on the ground and are a source of finding solutions. Grateful thanks to all. Please spread the news of the work we are doing. I assume you are all BAPIO members, if not go to www.bapio.co.uk and www.mdsuk.org now and join in the good work.
Take Care and Stay Safe.