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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 September 2005, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Refugee doctors return to wards
Woman scientist
The doctors have retrained to be employed by the NHS
Fourteen refugee doctors are working in the NHS under a scheme which gives them the retraining to be back on the wards.

The overseas medics have passed language and other tests to resume their calling after fleeing to Britain.

The Welsh Assembly Government said the scheme, Ward, (Wales Asylum-Seeking and Refugee Doctors Group) had been a "wise investment".

In May, the Royal College of Physicians said the NHS was failing to take advantage of refugee doctors' skills.

Since the Ward scheme began in 2002 those taking part have gained a 100% pass rate in the various tests.

But one of the trained doctors, Samir Al-Mashta, want to see more support for medics to get permanent jobs.

The refugee medics are a 'wise investment' says assembly minister

He said there were two parts to the doctors' story - a positive one of training but also one where the professionals are still trying to secure work.

He said: "We need to make more people aware about our problem - people involved in the strategic plan for the NHS."

Another doctor to benefit is Dr Shuann Shwana, who fled from Iraq three years ago.

After passing tests, the doctor has been working at Cardiff's University of Wales Hospital on the elderly and acute medicine wards.

"It (the scheme) has been very good and very successful," said Dr Shwana.

His fellow doctors worked as senior house officers (SHOs)and were paid a salary at the hospital.

"It was a very good opportunity and very good experience and it's on our CVs now," he added.

A former doctor at Baghdad's Medical City Hospital, Dr Shwana fled Iraq because of his opposition to Saddam Hussein's regime.

He applied for asylum and was given indefinite leave.

Dr Shwana is now working on an audit for the hospital and is applying for jobs geared to his speciality.


The assembly project includes a drop-in centre provided by the charity DPIA (Displaced People in Action) which offers access to medical journals and the internet.

The programme is run by Professor Bim Bhowmick, of the School of Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education at the Wales College of Medicine.

Social Justice Minister Edwina Hart said: "Refugees have a long and very successful history of making an enormous economic and cultural contribution to the new communities where they settle.

"That is why I am committed to having policies to support refugees and asylum seekers which will enable them to integrate and contribute to Wales culturally and economically."

In May this year the Royal College of Physicians survey found of more than 150 refugee doctors, 85% did not have physician posts in the NHS.

More than half (54%) were not employed in any capacity, while many took jobs in unrelated fields, such as unskilled labour, chefs and security guards.

Welshness 'dilutes asylum fears'
30 Jun 05 |  South East Wales

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