Millennium Post

Australia may deny work visas to foreign doctors

Australia’s health department today favoured imposing a ban on overseas-trained doctors from applying for work visas to end shortage of locally trained medicos, a move likely to hit Indian doctors working in the country.

According to media reports, senior members of Australian medical community had asked the federal government to stop issuing visas to overseas trained doctors after saying that skill shortage in regional and remote areas was not being addressed by the current migration programme.

Department of Health, which shared the same concern, has now made a formal submission for amendments to the immigration rules.

The department has said that that locally trained doctors would struggle to find jobs if the changes were not made to stop the immigration, The Australian reported.

It has suggested 41 health roles, including general practitioners, resident medical officers, surgeons and anaesthetists, to be removed from the Skilled Occupations List, a procedure that identifies occupations that would be benefitted by skilled migration. 

The proposals have been welcomed by Australian Medical Association and Rural Doctors Association on restricting visas. At the end of March, according to Immigration Department figures, there were 2155 general practitioners and 1562 resident medical officers in Australia on visas.

President of the Australian Medical Association Michael Gannon was quoted by ABC saying “Often 
what we’re doing is filling up corporate clinics in the middle of our cities, now that’s not the intention of these regulations”. 

Gannon said bringing in doctors from developing nations in particular raised an ethical question.
“If an Australian town of people takes a doctor from South Africa, they were looking after 14,000 people, who then take a doctor from Uganda who might look after 24,000 people,” he said.

Indians became the largest source of permanent migration to Australia forming 15.7 per cent of the total migration programme in 2011-12. 
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