Call for an end to restrictive adult dependency rule for overseas doctors


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Professional News
Access to the full content of this site is available only to registered healthcare professionals. Access to the full content of this site is available only to registered healthcare professionals.

The BMA has joined other leading medical bodies in calling on the Government to end the longstanding immigration rules that stop overseas doctors bringing elderly parents to Britain so they can look after them.

The BMA, Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Psychiatrists, British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, Association of Pakistani Physicians of Northern Europe and Royal College of Ophthalmology have signed a joint letter to the Home Secretary asking her to remove the restrictive adult dependency rule (ADR) for these doctors.

In the letter they say they are “deeply concerned that this rule is having an adverse impact on the lives and mental wellbeing of our members with elderly dependent parents living abroad”.

The correspondence says the impact of the 2012 rule change has been to permanently separate elderly parents from their UK-settled children, and this has had a considerable impact on the mental health of doctors, with many reporting increased stress and anxiety over the welfare of their parents, and their care.

In a survey of almost 1,000 doctors carried out in August 2020 by the Association of Pakistani Physicians of Northern Europe and the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, over 90 per cent reported feelings of anxiety, stress and helplessness due to the issue. Eight out of 10 have thought of relocating due to the inflexibility of these rules. Only one in 10 felt they had adequate support from their employer for trips abroad, necessitated by their parent’s illness or emergencies.

“We urge you to change the current rules and make it possible for the elderly parents of doctors working in the UK to be granted indefinite leave to remain and join their families in the UK. This has been achieved in the approach adopted by other countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada. This will give doctors working on the frontline the reassurance they need to stay working for the NHS whilst fulfilling their personal caring responsibilities to their elderly parents,” the organisations say.