I read with great interest your coverage of the leaked DH report on the pay and workforce strategy for 2007.

I read with great interest your coverage of the leaked DH report on the pay and workforce strategyfor 2007.

One group of skilled health professionals that could help to fill these shortages is the refugee health professionals. Research undertaken as part of the Refugee Doctor Programme Evaluation Network has identified that there are 1000 refugee doctors in London alone.

The Department of Health funded a three year programme to support refugee health professionals which demonstrated that relatively low-cost interventions can be effective in getting refugee health professional into work in a shorter period than training from scratch. Using professionals who are already here has greater long-term benefit and causes less harm to their countries of origin than international recruitment.

Work is underway through a partnership of professional bodies, Royal Colleges, refugee organisations and service providers in the development of a national strategy to support Refugee Health Professionals (RHPs). Building on evidence of good practice and existing partnerships, Building Bridgestakes a regional approach to promote the integration of RHPs into the health workforce.

This strategy already has support from the Home Office and NHS Employers. It also requires the support of the DH, SHAs and individual NHS trusts in order to effectively support RHPs, help fill the identified shortages in the health workforce and meet the healthcare needs that these professionals are amply equipped to provide.

Ceri Butler, Research Associate, ppre Limited