This interview was posted on our instagram page on 11 May 2020 as part of our #DistantSocialising series with the amazing team at RefuAid.
RefuAid is one of our charity partners, and always inspire us with their incredible work. RefuAid have helped many overseas medical professionals, such as Dr Alomar from Syria, to get accredited in the UK and join the NHS on the frontline against coronavirus.
What is keeping you inspired and creative during this period?
Our clients really are our inspiration, now and always. We’re always so humbled to see the positivity, resilience and determination of people who have faced such huge adversity but remain so hopeful and so incredibly driven. Watching doctors who have fled war and persecution return to a profession that they are so passionate about is one of the most rewarding aspects of our job and we could not be prouder of the people we work with. As one of our amazing doctors said recently, “a patient is the same everywhere. A lung is a lung, a heart is a heart and delivering the safest and best care is our goal - no matter where you’re from.”
Do you think this experience will leave to any positive changes in the way we live our lives and behave towards others?
We really hope so. There’s definitely been a change in rhetoric in recent months regarding migrants and refugees in the media, including significant coverage of how the NHS is reliant on migrant workers. I hope we can keep up momentum with this and I know there are a lot of wonderful organisations who are channelling a lot of resource into it.
What is RefuAid focusing on, and how has this period impacted your work?
Since lockdown we have had to close our loan and language programmes to new applicants, as the majority of schools and exam centres have been closed. We've taken this time to ensure that all of our currently studying students are fully supported with online learning resources and laptops, to make sure they are still able to work towards their goals, whether it be university or professional requalification.
We've also focused the majority of our time and resource into getting our refugee medical professionals into roles within the NHS to support with the fight against Covid-19. With many requalification exams being postponed or cancelled, many refugee doctors are stuck in limbo; desperate to help and put their skills and experience to use where they are so vitally needed, yet unable to continue working towards achieving that goal.
We have been working really hard with the NHS, politicians, the media and the General Medical Council to determine whether there is a safe and accessible way around this. We're delighted to say that it has worked and NHS England have created a role specifically for those in this situation; the Medical Support Worker role allows overseas qualified doctors, who have not yet been granted their full GMC registration, to work in clinical roles under supervision. This allows them to utilise their skills and experience in a time of national need, as well as to get back to what they love doing.
We have had many clients apply, some of whom have already taken up roles within NHS trusts and others who are waiting to find out their allocation.
This is just the first step; we're still working with all the relevant bodies to ensure that overseas qualified doctors have a safe and accessible way of gaining registration in order to practice independently in the UK.
Please visit their website to take a deeper look at their work.