Home Office ‘hellbent’ on deporting Singaporean doctor soon to become a GP
Pressure is being put on the Home Office over Luke Ong, 31, who trained in the UK for 10 years and is five months away from qualifying as a GP.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has called on the Home Office to rethink deporting a Singaporean doctor on the verge of qualifying as a GP because he applied for his visa 18 days too late.
Luke Ong, 31, who has lived in the UK for the past 10 years while training for his medical degree, is five months away from becoming a GP.
His parents paid almost £100,000 for his medical training in the UK, which was also part-funded by the UK Government.
I am broken, and I don't know how much longer I can take this Trainee doctor Luke Ong
Mr Ong applied for the right to remain in September 2017 but was refused by the Home Office for being 18 days late, a mistake the BMA described as “an honest oversight”.
Mr Ong, who lives in Manchester, appealed against the Home Office’s “hellbent” decision to deport him, which was upheld by an immigration judge.
However, the Home Office are taking his appeal to a higher court in the hope overturning it will allow his deportation.
Throughout the whole legal process, Mr Ong has said he has been unable to work, forcing him to live off “savings and [the] kindness of my friends”.
Writing on his online petition page, he said: “I am broken, and I don’t know how much longer I can take this.
“At a time when the NHS is struggling to train and recruit GPs, I find it absolutely ridiculous that I am on the cusp of becoming a GP, but potentially facing deportation if the Home Office press ahead with their appeal.
Responding to the @ukhomeoffice decision to deport GP trainee Dr Luke Ong, @CNagpaul says the decision 'beggars belief at a time when the Government is prepared to spend millions recruiting GPs from abroad'. Full response: https://t.co/uORF69lE9J— The BMA (@TheBMA) April 9, 2018
“I have given the best years of my life to the NHS, toiling relentlessly through nights and weekends for many years, paying my taxes and contributing to wider society – sadly all this counts for nothing, and the Home Office are now treating me as an illegal immigrant”.
Mr Ong’s visa expired on 15 August 2017 and the first available appointment to extend it was not until 2 September.
When he attended the appointment his application was rejected on the basis that he was too late.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “This situation, in which a doctor who has committed the last ten years of his life studying, training and serving in the NHS faces deportation over what appears to be an honest oversight, beggars belief at a time when the Government is prepared to spend millions recruiting GPs from abroad.
“The Government knows there is a serious shortage of GPs in England, with too few medical students opting for the specialism, while experienced doctors reduce their hours or retire early – something which is having a negative effect on patient care.
“The Home Office must therefore move away from this hostile culture and any approach to immigration rules for doctors needs to be flexible and – ultimately – practical. For them to seemingly take such a strict stand in this case is utterly incomprehensible.”
A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: “All visa applications are considered in line with immigration rules and on the evidence provided.
“Dr Ong’s case is currently under appeal and it would be inappropriate to comment further whilst legal proceedings are ongoing”.