case concerns the status of thousands of
doctors who are in Britain on Highly Skilled
Work Permit (HSMP) visas. These doctors
found themselves in a limbo when the British
government made abrupt changes to the HSMP
visas regulations in March 2006 in order
to accommodate medical graduates from the
27-nation European Union (EU) region.
consulting HSMP visa holders, the Department
of Health directed the country's biggest
health employer - the state-owned National
Health Service (NHS) - to consider non-European
applicants for jobs only if there were no
suitable graduates from the EU or Britain.
arguing that the changes were unlawful,
took the government to court. The organisation
said doctors who were in Britain on HSMP
visas were entitled to be treated on a par
with British and EU applicants. It lost
the case in November 2006 but took it to
the Court of Appeal, which upheld the Indian
doctors' case in October 2007. The case
has now reached the House of Lords because
the Department of Health appealed against
the 2007 ruling under unusual circumstances.
Appeals Court had refused permission to
the department to take the case to the House
of Lords but it went directly to the apex
court and appealed in the name of Minister
of State for Health Alan Johnson. "We
believe we have a very strong case and we
hope justice will continue to be done to
overseas doctors in Britain," said
BAPIO president Rashmi Mehta.
10,000 Indian doctors have applied for NHS
jobs and awaiting the outcome of the trial.
But the verdict could also affect another
3,500 Indians whose existing NHS jobs may
be reviewed if the court rules against them,
Mehta told IANS.There are also several thousand
non-Indian doctors from outside the EU whose
future will be decided Thursday.
Indian doctors' case will be argued by prominent
human rights lawyer Rabinder Singh. "He
was in Strasbourg till Tuesday arguing a
case for the British government. Now he
will be arguing our case against the same
government," said Mehta.