The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), responsible for recruitment within the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), aims to position India as the global hub for medical talent.

The largest group of 65,000 doctors of Indian origin in the UK plans to transform India into a top choice for doctor recruitment or for Indians seeking opportunities abroad.

“We aim to make India the skill capital of the world,” Parag Singhal, national secretary, BAPIO, told News18 in an exclusive interview.

“We are entering skill building in India. Our three-year programme will enable MBBS graduates to gain UK qualifications and open the doors to the world,” he said over a phone call.

Ending the speculation about the NHS hiring 2,000 doctors from India, Singhal clarified: “The NHS is not recruiting the speculated 2,000 doctors from India. While it has been hiring from the country, it’s not in such large numbers.”

He claimed that BAPIO is the only organisation via which NHS hires in India. “We run 13 centres in India in several states where we train doctors and then hire for roles in NHS hospitals. In fact, in the last three years, we have hired 140 doctors from India — all at junior and middle levels.”

He said that at present, NHS is hunting for “consultant level” hiring from India which is senior-level recruitment. “We’ve begun hiring according to our needs. However, it’s uncertain how many vacancies will arise in NHS hospitals. It could be as few as five or as many as a hundred.”

Expanding Footprints in India

The lobby has decided to expand its footprint in the country. “We are adding more centres. The list includes Cloud Nine hospitals across India, South Delhi, Mohali, Siliguri, new centre in Nagpur and Aurobindo University Hospitals across Madhya Pradesh.”

Presently, the centres are in Delhi (five centres), Mumbai, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Indore, Gwalior, Bengaluru, Calicut and Chennai.

Singhal clarified that the NHS also recruits from numerous other countries, not just India. “We are running similar programmes in the Middle East, Pakistan, and European Union for hiring consultants. Soon, we will be opening centres for junior-level hiring in the Middle East and Central Asia.”

How do they train Indian doctors for UK?

While labelling Indian doctors as “brilliant” and “outstanding”, Singhal said those at the junior level – who have recently finished MBBS – require understanding to execute whatever they have learnt so far.

Mid-level doctors need more soft skills. “The curriculum in India does not teach the way doctors should communicate with the patient, patient’s family, compassion and teamwork. Knowledge is not a problem with Indian doctors. We only need to polish them.”

Senior-level doctors who are hired for consultant roles in the UK face a mismatch of expectations. “The role of a consultant is different in the UK from India. In the UK, you are a leader if you are a consultant. From managing the staff to deciding the team budget, managing the financial crisis, the consultant shoulders additional responsibility of team leader apart from handling his patients.”

Singhal believes that gaining work experience in the UK equips doctors to excel in various global settings, including the US and Europe. “Moreover, if doctors choose to return to India, their experience will also benefit the country.”

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