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Winyard argues that the BMA is being “ambiguous” in criticising both the medical training application service (MTAS) fiasco and the changes in immigration policy.1 He implies that it is incongruent to do so, as stopping immigration is necessary for the system to run adequately. Although this is somewhat true, the BMA is not lobbying for the rights of future immigrants, but for the rights of current immigrants who have been unfairly forced into exile by the new immigration rules. The BMA deserves nothing but praise for this.
He also mentions that the United Kingdom currently has “the worst of all worlds,” as it invests in expanding medical schools but still recruits people from overseas, only to fail to give them all a job down the line. But this is actually quite clever. In the end, what you get is a surplus of intelligent, well intentioned, overqualified people with no transferable skills, thousands of pounds in debt, desperately looking for a job in the one company that has the monopoly for employing their services. It's the best of all worlds, really, and any company in the private sector would kill for this.
The way forward is clear. The house is full, so please shut all the doors. All of them. Not only permit-free training, but highly skilled migrant programmes, professional and linguistic assessment board tests, and all entry to UK medical schools by overseas students aspiring to stay in the UK. The fact that all these structures still offer false hope (and charge heavily for the privilege) is nothing but cruel. But what about those already inside? Would it be too much to let them stay? Even if it means a little more competition? After all, they did help to build the house.
Competing interests: JZ is an overseas UK graduate unlikely to be able to apply for specialist training next year.