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8 February 2017, 12:16
Refugee doctors in Scotland will benefit from a programme to help them retrain to work in the NHS.
The New Refugee Doctors Project will give qualified doctors training, language support and mentoring to help them meet the standards required for registration with the General Medical Council and to practice medicine in Scotland.
Syrian doctor Mohammad Helmi is one of the refugees on the training programme.
He said: "Getting back into medicine is what I have been looking for since my first day in Scotland, and I cannot imagine myself being anywhere else. It is my passion where I will be able to contribute the most to humanity.''
Those taking part have committed to working for NHS Scotland as a condition of the £161,700 Scottish Government-funded scheme.
Equalities Secretary Angela Constance announced the funding on Wednesday at one of the training locations, Kersland House Surgery in Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire.
She said: "This programme - unique in the UK - will reduce the de-skilling of medics who have sought refuge in Scotland, and will allow NHS Scotland to utilise the experience of refugee doctors with valuable and highly specialised skills.
"We know access to training and employment is crucial to integration, and it can be devastating for those who had a skill in their home country to be unable to use that in their new country.
"By giving people a helping hand to utilise their skills we're not only supporting them to make connections and friendships, and to build a better life, but we will all benefit from those skills too.''
The Bridges Programmes runs the training scheme in partnership with the British Medical Association, NHS Education for Scotland, Clyde College and the City of Glasgow College.
Dr Greg Jones, clinical lead at NHS Education for Scotland, said: "We aim to allow refugee doctors to use their previous experience and training and become valuable contributors to the NHS in Scotland.
"Before doctors can work in NHS Scotland they need to prove they have a high standard of written and spoken English. Only then are they allowed to sit the exams they need to prove their medical knowledge is satisfactory.
"Additional support to help refugee doctors with English language examinations is very welcome in helping them over this initial hurdle into medical training in Scotland.
"We are committed to supporting doctors into training for the benefit of both the NHS and wider society, whilst ensuring patient safety at all times.''