Published: 06/10/2005 Volume 115 No. 5976 Page 18 19
Ceri Butler, research associate, ppre Ltd; PhD research student, University College London department of primary care and population sciences
The article by Dr John Eastwood et al (Working Lives, page 37, 15 September) highlights some of the ongoing efforts to use the skills of refugee doctors in the UK, but some clarifications may be helpful.
The BMA's voluntary database on refugee doctors underestimates the number of refugee doctors in the UK, and the numbers that are working. The refugee doctor programme evaluation network links databases held by member organisations.
In April 2005, it identified 740 refugee doctors living in London, of whom 154 were working. As the network continues to grow and more organisations submit data so too will the evidence of more refugee doctors in the UK.
The St George's Hospital medical school scheme is not the only provider of support and training.
There are numerous schemes across London, Bristol and Manchester that provide advice and support.
Since the decision to end government funding of schemes for refugee health professionals, all providers are reliant on charitable trusts, strategic health authorities and European grants.
Funders and providers need to recognise the need to provide tailored support to meet the needs of refugee doctors and the NHS.
It is important that workforce managers realise the potential of their local communities. Enabling the integration of refugee health professionals will not only bring valuable medical experience to hospitals and practices, but also linguistic and cultural skills to provide a health service fit for the diverse population it serves.
The More Than You Think report on refugee doctors in London is available from ppre@onetel. com.