"We feel like an incomplete family."
Indian doctors across Britain are campaigning for the right to bring their elderly parents to live with them in the UK.
Medical organisations and overseas-trained doctors are hoping to change the current adult dependent relative rules.
These rules make it difficult for doctors to have their parents live with them after they settle in the UK.
The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) is working on the campaign. The British Medical Association and other bodies representing settled migrant doctors are joining them.
They have penned a joint letter to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, urging her to review the rules.
The letter also asked Patel to make the rules more flexible. This would allow elderly parents to be granted indefinite leave to remain.
The letter states:
“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 letter also warns of the potential loss to the NHS if these doctors feel “forced out of the country”, as many have been working on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic.
What Indian doctors must do to bring their parents to the UK
Currently, settled overseas-trained doctors can only bring elderly parents over to live with them if they can demonstrate a need for long-term personal care.
However, they must prove this personal care is only available in the UK.
The guidelines were implemented under the Immigration Act in 2012, under former Home Secretary Theresa May.
Before the rule change, overseas-trained doctors submitted over 2,000 applications to bring their parents to the UK.
In 2016, this number fell to around 160, and the majority of those were unsuccessful.
Many Indian parents have died whilst their children are undergoing the application process.
Indian doctors describe the application process as burdensome. They also say that even if the same level of care is unavailable in India, it is almost impossible to “prove”.
How Indian doctors feel about the current guidelines
Dr Kamal Sidhu, from Ludhiana, Punjab, has been in the UK since 2003 working as a family doctor in Durham.
He and his family are British citizens, but he has been unsuccessful in bringing his parents to Britain from Ludhiana.
Sidhu said: “We feel like an incomplete family.
“Our parents invested all their lives into us and we want to be able to be there to make their lives more comfortable and to live with them and look after them.
“The UK government asks for evidence you cannot find care in India, so you have to prove you employed carers and they didn’t turn up, how much you paid them and where else you tried, and what went wrong.
“They want so much detail. We want them to be more flexible and realistic.
“They are asking us to prove something next to impossible to prove.”
Barrister Usha Sood represents hundreds of Indian doctors in Britain. She says many have had to take emergency flights to India due to their parents being unwell.
Sood said: “One doctor’s mother collapsed and was not found for two days as the maid didn’t turn up.
“Another got a call from his dad, who is in his late 80s, saying his mum has fallen and that he needed to come and help.”
As a result, this affects the number of operation and clinic cancellations on the NHS in the UK.