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Q&A with Raja Ahmed, UK Consultant Psychiatrist

By Gabrielle Richardson
October 03, 2018

Introduction 1.What is your name, speciality, grade and what hospital do you work at? My name is Dr Raja Adnan Ahmed and I am working as a Consultant Psychiatrist in       South Wales currently based in Ysbyty’r Tri Chwm Hospital which is part of the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. I have been working on this substantive consultant post for over two years. 2.What country did you relocate from? I relocated from Pakistan having graduated in 2003 and I arrived in the UK in 2005. 3.Would you share with us your personal mission as a doctor? My mission is to raise awareness about mental illness amongst the general public as well as healthcare professionals and to reduce the stigma associated with mental health. I believe due to the lack of awareness many people, including doctors and allied health professionals, suffer in silence and treatable mental health conditions become disabling. I would like to see mental health receive the same attention and parity of funding as physical health. I would also like to see an improvement of training in Psychiatry as a discipline among medical students in the UK and in Pakistan.   4.At what point in your career did you decide you wanted to relocate to the UK? What were your motivations for wanting to do so? I moved to the UK following my house job (internship) in Pakistan. In fact, I started to plan during my final year of medical college. I was interested in Psychiatry and started to research the Royal College of Psychiatrist Training Curriculum and various training programmes within the UK. I undertook the necessary IELTS during my internship as well as studied for my PLAB1 exam. My main motivation to pursue training in the UK was the highly organised and carefully structured training programmes available in Psychiatry. There were excellent training opportunities, emphasis on a work life balance, a rewarding salary, recognition and clear pathway for progression of one's career, all of these factors contributed to my choice in migrating to the UK. The Relocation Process 5.How long did it take you to relocate, how difficult did you find the process, and do you recommend it to other IMGs? I relocated to the UK in 2005, at that time under the labour government, the visa regulations, especially for highly skilled migrants were quite straight forward. Unfortunately, this also meant that the job market became saturated quickly. A single non-training vacancy would attract hundreds of applications. It was not unusual at that time for IMGs to start with unpaid clinical attachment work for months whilst simultaneously applying for post across the country. The situation changed around 2006-2007 as many IMGs started to leave due to lack of posts. When I first moved to the UK within first few months of passing PLAB I was able to secure a clinical attachment and within 8 weeks of that I was able to secure first locum post in the same department which led to further short-term locum positions. However, it took me more than a year to secure my first training job as a foundation year two doctor. Certain specialities continue to have a chronic shortage of doctors, but I can see that the situation is improving, therefore, I advise young IMGs to pursue their ambitions at this current time. 6.Is there anything you would have liked to have known before deciding to relocate? And now once you live in the UK? When you move countries, you are leaving behind all the support networks, family and friends. It takes time to settle and for me at first it felt like I was starting my life from scratch. The initial months can be very anxiety provoking due to lots of uncertainties and challenges but as times goes on most of us adapt to the changes and the new cultures and working environment. Once a job is secure the rest comes naturally. You are never too far from a supporting figure, colleague or mentor. In my experience, Wales, has been a very welcoming and friendly place to live hence, I have chosen to stay and work here. I advise new IMGs to keep an open mind and be prepared to face the initial challenges. There is a lot to learn about British cultural norms, culture of NHS as a health service and British society in general. But once you start to settle the you will find British society and NHS is very welcoming and inclusive towards IMGs and you will get many of opportunities to grow.   Thoughts on the UK 7.For you, what are the key benefits of living in the UK? I see plenty of benefits living in the UK. The society in general is very liberal, inclusive and welcoming, people are very friendly and value your hard work, intelligence and dedication. The UK is at the cutting edge of medical research and innovation and there are excellent training opportunities which include training in the hospitals, Royal Colleges and opportunities with the local universities. The training and qualifications you gain in the UK are recognised globally. The NHS has the mechanisms to make you a well-rounded doctor. Our children also get better education via the school system here in the UK and hopefully will get excellent university education which will open opportunities for their future progress. The UK also offers you a very healthy work life balance and there is a lot to explore and enjoy as a family within the UK and also in Europe. 8.How do you feel you settled in your chosen location within the UK?  I grew up in a small town in Pakistan which was surrounded by beautiful countryside and mango farms. I think because of my upbringing and the lovely early childhood memories, I love the countryside. I remember my very first days in London when I was preparing for PLAB-2, visiting the city and travelling around on the London underground during the peak hours, as much as I enjoyed this experience my heart has always been drawn to the idyllic country atmosphere. Fortunately, I had the chance to work in the South Wales which offered me good balance or city and rural life with proximity of cities like Cardiff and Bristol along with the lovely countryside with rolling hills, peaks of Brecon Beacons and sandy beaches of the Welsh coastline. The cost of living is lower in Wales if you compare it with areas around London or the South West of England. 9.Have you applied for permanent residency in the UK? How did you find the process? The visa regulation has changed a lot since 2005, generally speaking, it was a lot easier 10 years ago. IMG doctors applied for a HSMP visa (highly skilled migrant programme) which lasted for certain number of years leading to ILR (indefinite leave to remain) and there was no need to change visas with every job.    Unfortunately, I don't understand the current visa rules so well as so much has changed but I believe the UK government should make it easier for highly skilled professionals to acquire British visa’s and provide them a clear pathway to permanent residency. The NHS 10.How did you feel on your first day of working within the NHS, your first week, month and then how do you feel now compared to when you first started? My very first experience of working in the UK was clinical attachment which led to a locum SHO job in the same hospital. I was very excited and nervous at the same time. I met very helpful experienced seniors to guide me through that period and I slowly gained experience and confidence. There is no doubt that the first few weeks or months in the NHS can be difficult as there is a lot to learn about the system and functions of the multi-disciplinary teams. I advise doctors to be honest about their skill level and do not ever hesitate to ask for help when you are unsure. Also, do not feel ashamed to ask plenty of questions and identify areas of your weakness, reflect upon them, discuss them with your supervisors and develop a personal development plan (PDP)  to constantly learn and improve your skills. 11.How would you describe the support you received from your hospital after starting your new position? I received good support from seniors in the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport when I was doing both my clinical attachment and during my locum SHO position in medicine. I was lucky to work with the seniors who understood that IMGs require periods of induction into the NHS system and require extra support and supervision at the start.    My first training post was in Yeovil, Somerset as and FY2 in 2007, again I was warmly welcomed by the staff and received appropriate support in settling in and achieving my required foundation competences and application process for the core psychiatry training. I think all departments in NHS are familiar with new IMGs starting their first job in the NHS and they are usually very helpful. I also advise IMGs to look out for mentors both at a peer level and senior levels who can guide and support you during the initial years. 12.What were your thoughts on the UK/NHS System in 2005, do you think either has changed much over the last 13 years? This is an interesting question. Certainly, a lot has changed within the NHS and as an organisation NHS is constantly evolving as it is trying to improve and find more effective ways to perform. Although we use word NHS as if this is a single organisation but in reality, the NHS is formed by lot of different bodies and as doctors we experience interactions with various different trusts, hospitals, training schemes, royal colleges, deaneries and universities. Since I started working in the NHS I have noticed there are certain negative streams of media that denigrate the health service and portray it to be unsustainable. I remember IMGs back in 2005 were worrying if the NHS would survive another 5 years. It is true that certain Trust services and hospitals struggle to manage safely but on the other hand there is a lot more positivity about the NHS and its excellent performance which is not reflected fully in the media. I now advise my colleagues and new IMGs to avoid concentrating on all the negative media coverage about the NHS and focus on all the positives NHS offer you. By working within the NHS, you become part of a diverse multicultural workforce and get exposure to excellent training opportunities, cutting edge techniques, chance to work with worlds experts in certain fields, frontline academics and mentors. I believe NHS will continue to offer excellent training despite the austerity measures.    13.What is your opinion on the NHS? Working within it and as a patient receiving care? NHS is an excellent health system and simply one of the best in the world. The staff show real compassion and commitment and generally the training of the staff along with safety standards are exceptional. I believe your hard work and dedication are recognised and commended within the NHS and you are given opportunities to bring about the change. 14.What pathway did you use to become a UK Consultant? I have a CCT in Old Age Psychiatry which I achieved in 2016. I started the training pathway in 2007 with a Foundation Year 2 job in Somerset, which led to core psychiatry training. I finished my membership exam, core and specialist training within Wales Deanery. For IMGs who are interested in psychiatry training, I always advise them to consider the proper training pathway with membership exams and aim for the CCT. Given the shortage of applications on core training jobs, the core training places have been under filled for the last 10 years (although in 2018 we had a much better year for recruitment). Similarly, when core trainees are finishing their membership exams, they are getting specialist training posts fairly easily leading to CCT. Although I have nothing against CESR pathway, generally speaking in Psychiatry it is easier to get a CCT with better exposure to training which helps you to become a confident consultant.     15.How do you find working in the UK compared to your home country? When I left Pakistan in2005, the life of a trainee doctor in Pakistan was very difficult due to shortage of training places, shortage of supervisors and very low salaries. But above all, I was most concerned with the lack of training opportunities. In comparison to Pakistan, I felt the training in the UK offered a better structured and clear pathway to progress along with several excellent opportunities to refine my skills as educator and leader. Working and training in the UK also gives you financial independence and a peace of mind so you can focus your energies on training needs, membership exams and clinical skills. When I was working in Pakistan, I knew I would have been financially dependent on my parents, but in the UK, my wife and I moved into our first house in Wales when we were both Foundation Year 2 doctors. The Future 16.What are your hopes for the future? I am currently working on a Consultant Psychiatrist post with NHS Wales and pursuing a Master’s in medical education with Cardiff University. I would like to develop myself as an experienced educator, I am already involved with Cardiff University Medical School, the Welsh Deanery and my local health board in teaching and examining roles but I would like to expand my involvement and improve my own experience as an educator. I am interested in raising awareness about mental illness in general public and healthcare professionals and improve recruitment into psychiatry. I am also interested in Qualitative research methods and currently exploring and learning more about qualitative research and designing my first Qualitative research project. In the future, I like to establish myself as an experienced researcher with publications in reputed psychiatry journals along with my clinical and educational role. In my personal life, I am blessed with an extremely supportive wife, who is a GP herself and we have three lovely energetic children. I always try and find ways to spend quality time with my family and maintain a healthy work life balance. We enjoy hobbies such as cycling, hiking, running and swimming. The future holds so much more! Thank you for reading! Join our Facebook Group IMG Advisor! Here you will have access to regular relocation blog posts, the opportunity to ask questions and receive professional support and the chance to meet other IMGs! 

Sebastian's Guide to Santorini

By Gabrielle Richardson
September 28, 2018

Warning! This blog may result in Wanderlust… Recently, our Paediatric Specialist Sebastian and his girlfriend Clare just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the beautiful island of Santorini, Greece.   Relocating to the UK and working for the NHS has endless advantages including the opportunity to train within the NHS, increased job stability, and the opportunity to receive a good source of income. Another advantage and the purpose of today’s article is that living in the UK will provide you with the prospect of travelling to incredible European locations. There are 51 countries that belong to the diverse continent and home to some of the world’s most vibrant cities, iconic architecture and amazing art – all of which are on the UK’s doorstep. Travel gives you time to relax and refresh, obtain new perspectives, the opportunity to meet new people and it is a fantastic stress buster!   So, in this post, we wanted to take the opportunity to inspire you to relocate to the UK and travel to beautiful destinations like Santorini by sharing some amazing pictures from Sebastian’s holiday. Santorini Santorini is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea and it is an island that will offer you sweeping ocean views, picture-perfect beaches, traditional Grecian architecture and fine dining. Flights London Heathrow – British Airways offers flights from May to October London Gatwick and Manchester – EasyJet offers flights from April to October Accommodation in Oia Santa Maris Luxury Villa and Suites Hotel Sebastian and Clare stayed in an exquisite hotel neatly tucked away from the centre of Oia. The hotel will offer you an authentic experience, with views overlooking the Aegean Sea and exclusive sunsets. Sebastian’s Must-See Places The Red Beach – Depending on how long you are visiting the island for, you may like to rent a car. This will allow you to visit the South of the Island, including the pre-historic town called Akrotiri. Here, you will find the red beach, a rare sight of an enormous volcanic rock situation in the sea next to dark blue waters. Ancient Thira – Ancient Thira is an ancient city and home to Messa Vouno Mountain – the visit will offer you spectacular views, markets and historic ruins. Fira – Fira is the capital of Santorini and it is a beautiful area that will offer you endless cafes, bars, restaurants and amazing views. Sebastian’s Must-Do Activities A boat trip – Exploring the island by boat will offer you a unique opportunity to see different towns and villages in all its diversity. Visit the pre-historic towns and ancient sites – This will give you a chance to learn about both the island’s history and Ancient Greek history Eat out at as many restaurants as possible – The food in Santorini is Mediterranean-Greek. You will find a great array of seafood and meats with the opportunity to try the islands finest-grown tomatoes, olives and wines. Go on the cable cars in Fira – This is an absolute necessity! Giving you beautiful views across the whole island. Plan to watch the sunset – Santorini sunsets are among the most sought-after phenomena in the world and so you should definitely make time to see the sun set in a variety of locations. Thanks for reading! And remember to share your European adventures with us when you relocate to the UK! Why is travelling important for my career? Join our Facebook Group IMG Advisor – Here you will receive access to frequent relocation blog posts, the opportunity to ask questions and receive professional advice and the chance to meet other IMGs!

World Suicide Prevention Day

By Gabrielle Richardson
September 10, 2018

World Suicide Prevention Day is held every year on the 10th of September. It is an annual awareness-raising event organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Why is Suicide Prevention Day important? The WHO published that over 800,000 people take their lives each year across the world. In the UK and the Republic of Ireland, more than 6,000 people die by suicide a year – an average of 18 a day. Therefore, it is important to reach out to people who are going through a difficult time as it can often save their life. Feeling suicidal is a result of a person feeling low, worthless and think that no-one cares for them. So, small things such as hearing from a friend or family member, being listened to or being told that ‘it is okay to talk’, either to a friend or a healthcare professional. It is important to remember that doctors are also at an incredibly high risk for mental health. Between 2011 and 2015, 430 healthcare professionals within the UK took their own lives. The NHS Practitioner Health Programme (PHP), is the only confidential service that offers doctors a range of assessments, treatment and case-management for all mental health problems. So, if you are a doctor who believes a colleague needs support please keep reading to find out ways you can help them. What are the signs of someone feeling suicidal? Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live Talking about great guilt or shame Talking about feeling trapped or there are no solutions Feeling unbearable pain (emotional and physical) Talking about being a burden to others Using alcohol or drugs more often Risk Factors of Suicide Suicide does not discriminate against the type of person you are. People of all genders, ages and ethnicities can be at risk. Suicidal behaviour is very complex and there is no single cause. Various factors can cause someone to make a suicide attempt but people most at risk tend to share certain characteristics including and not limiting: Depression or other mental disorders Substance abuse disorder Chronic pain A prior suicide attempt Family violence, including physical or sexual Being exposed to others’ suicidal behaviour, such as that of family members or peers You should note that suicidal thoughts are not a normal response to stress. Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress, not a harmless bid for attention and should not be ignored. Action steps to helping someone who is suffering from severe emotional pain: Be there – Listen carefully and learn what the person is thinking and feeling if they reveal that they are feeling suicidal talking about it with them will reduce their chances of going through with it. Keep them safe – Reducing a person’s access to highly dangerous items or places is an important part of suicide prevention Encouraging them to talk – Try and encourage them to call a helpline or contact someone the person might turn to for support, for example, a particular friend, family member or religious figure Encourage positive lifestyle changes – This includes a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, getting out into the sun or nature for at least 30 minutes each day. Exercise is fundamental to mental health as it releases endorphins, relieves stress and promotes emotional well-being. Remember – tomorrow needs you because you matter to someone who loves you. Please note that this article is just a guide, if you are someone else you know is feeling suicidal please contact a professional help service. NHS Choices – Suicide Samaritans Mind References (2018). NIMH » Suicide Prevention. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Sep. 2018].

Interview with Naseer Khan, writer of "Naseer's Journey"

By Gabrielle Richardson
August 30, 2018

Introduction I would like to thank BDI Resourcing for organising this interview, it is an honour for me to be interviewed by them. I would like to start by saying that BDI Resourcing has done some amazing work by creating their blog aimed at helping international doctors relocate to the UK and work within the NHS. I know how difficult it is to create a blog and the amount of dedication it requires. They, therefore, deserve a lot of credit for this reason. I am sure that countless doctors are getting guidance from their blog. What speciality of medicine do you work in and at what hospital? I currently work as an SHO at a rotational post in General Medicine at King’s College Hospital, London. So far, I have worked in the following departments: Stroke, Neurology, AMU, Geriatrics and Frailty. Before this, I worked for 6 months in Renal Medicine and Transplant Surgery at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth. Would you share with us your personal mission as a doctor? My dream is to see a top quality and free healthcare system in Pakistan. I would like to take my experiences gained from working within the NHS and help with the development of a similar system in Pakistan. But I do want to take it one step at a time. For now, I wish to move forward in my career, whilst helping my colleagues and juniors. At what point in your career did you decide that you wanted to relocate to the UK? And what were your motivations for wanting to do so? During my time at medical school, my aim was to attempt the USMLE and relocate to the United States. However, I always felt that it was a very difficult exam and I was unsure I would have been able to pass it. I attended a career guidance seminar at Aga Khan University, Karachi in January 2014 and the seminar convinced me to sit the PLAB exams and relocate to the United Kingdom instead. I chose the PLAB route into the NHS because I found it to be the shortest, easiest, least expensive and the most convenient pathway. For you, what are the key benefits of living in the UK? There are many advantages to living in the UK, but here are the most important ones to me: A quick start: PLAB is an easy exam and it does not take much time Quality earnings: The starting salary for a doctor is the same in the UK as it is in the USA, making the decision to relocate to the UK a lot easier The UK is a welfare state It is fascinating to see how a free healthcare system function’s As a doctor in the UK, you will be in a position to make a difference You will have the freedom to do whatever you like British people are incredibly nice and friendly You will have enough finances to buy any car in the world As a junior doctor, you will earn enough to buy your own house How long did it take you to relocate, how difficult was the process and do you recommend it to others? I decided to sit PLAB in January 2014 and I started working in the UK in August 2017, taking me three years. In fact, I should have started working in the UK in August 2015. However, I had to wait two years because of the CoS and visa rejections. The rejections myself and many other doctors faced hurt me deeply and caused a significant amount of depression for me. But I learnt a lot from the experience. If it had not been for the visa rejections I would never have made my blog to help guide doctors to the UK on such a large scale. I am blessed to be working in the UK and I cannot thank my parents and Dr Hamed Salehi enough for making this possible for me. With regards to recommending others, I want people to know that the NHS has more jobs than ever before. The NHS is severely short of doctors and Brexit will create even more jobs for international doctors because we will be in the same boat as EEA citizens. Please note that PLAB is a very easy exam – do not be afraid to sit it. We are blessed that there is so much guidance available online for doctors who wish to work in the UK. No other route has this amount of guidance and support available. Having said this, people should weigh up the pros and cons of each route in the NHS and make their own decisions. Is there anything you would have liked to have known before deciding to relocate? And now once you are living in the UK? I cannot think of anything specific that people should know before coming to the UK. What I am grateful for is how nice people were to me on Facebook. Facebook was an excellent tool for building connections with people even before coming to the UK. When I arrived in the UK, I did, however, know a lot of people who I learnt the basics about working within the NHS. These people were not active on Facebook and they learnt things the hard way. My advice to doctors who wish to come to the UK is to join all the relevant Facebook groups and to keep their eyes and ears open to any advice doctors are offering. How long did it take you to settle into the UK? My first job in the UK was in Cosham, Portsmouth. It is a very nice, clean, green, quiet, small, wet and rainy town on the south coast of the UK. I decided to live in hospital accommodation, which was only thirty seconds from the hospital entrance. The food market and the nearest train station were only five minutes away from the hospital. I did not mind the fact that Cosham was a small and quiet place. I know this may surprise a lot of people, but I am a very shy and quiet person; I am an introvert. So, I was very happy in Portsmouth. However, I must admit that I found the love of my life who lived in London. Therefore, after spending six months in Portsmouth, I decided to move to the UK’s capital. I was very happy and excited to move to London as it is the best city in the world. All your dreams can be made true in London. The only downside to life in London is the expensive property rents. I live near King’s College Hospital, which is a very expensive area to live in. However, I must confess that I have easily saved the same amount of money as I was saving in Portsmouth. So, living in London is not only possible but you can even save money whilst living here. It all depends on how good you are at saving your finances. But as much as I confessed earlier, I am a shy, quiet and private person so I do not go out much. As much as I love London, long-term, I don’t think the lifestyle is for me. So, I will try and get my training outside of the city. How would you describe the support you received from your hospital after starting your new position? I love the people in the UK. The HR at King’s were extremely supportive towards me. They helped me with documentation, they also kindly arranged a two-week paid observership period for me. The Consultants were also extremely nice to me, they were willing to give me the margin to learn and adapt to the system. Most of the registrars and SHOs were also very helpful and supportive. Having said this, the first few weeks or months at your first job in the UK are bound to be difficult. It takes time to adjust and so you should be prepared for things to be tough at first. Whenever you change jobs, you will again have to adapt to a new system. Therefore, it is ideal to stay at the same job until you find training. On reflection, what I did by switching jobs was not ideal. But well, I wanted to get married and start a new life. So, I am very happy with my decision to move to London. What are your views on the NHS as a system? Working within it and as a patient who receives care? The NHS provides free healthcare to people regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity or financial background. The system is designed on the basis of humanity. There is nothing more beautiful than this. For me, it is an honour and a privilege to be part of this system. When I fractured my finger last year, I became a patient of the NHS. I was treated for free. I was also given paid sick leave to cover my period of illness. I could not have asked for better care. How do you find working in the UK compared to your home country? Working in the UK is completely different from working in Pakistan. There is a lot I can say here, but to keep it simple, there are two main differences between working in the UK and Pakistan: In Pakistan, doctors are underpaid. In the UK we are given our fair share. In the UK, making a mistake can be costly because of the lawsuits. Therefore, we must be more cautious and careful while working. What are your hopes for the future? My hopes for the NHS: The NHS has changed the way that I look at healthcare. I have nothing but respect for the healthcare system in the UK. I wish to see the NHS saving more and more lives and making more and more people’s lives better. My hopes for my country’s healthcare system: I wish to see a similar system in Pakistan. My hopes for myself: I wish to become a GP and to make a positive influence and difference in as many people’s lives as I can. Conclusion Thank you so much for taking the time for reading this interview. I would like to wish the best of luck to BDI Resourcing and I hope they can keep helping doctors as much as they can.

Doctors and Social Media

By Gabrielle Richardson
August 15, 2018

Today, 2.77 billion people use social media and this number increases month-to-month. An active social media presence is starting to become mandatory across many different industries, as more leaders realise its potential for improving services and attracting new clients. This also goes for the healthcare industry, which is notoriously slow at adopting new technologies and communication tools due resultant of the fear about violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) rules, is starting to utilise all things social media. Many doctors are beginning to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to interact with patients and colleagues outside of the surgery and hospital, collect helpful medical information, and generally set up a stronger presence in people’s daily lives. In today’s post, we provide you with the benefits of social media, why doctors enjoy using social media, how to protect your privacy online and how to deal with online harassment and abuse. Benefits of Social Media in a Snapshot: Build your professional network Offer and access professional and peer support Campaign on issues important to you Follow debates and developments around your work Share ideas and information Why do doctors use social media? To connect with patients The use of social media allows doctors to support patients outside of the surgery and hospital. 60% of doctors report that social media improves the quality of care they deliver to patients for multiple reasons. The first is that it allows doctors to see what their patients are thinking, doing and even eating which allows them to better serve their patients’ needs. The second is that it allows the doctor-patient relationship to improve as the use of Twitter can allow both sides to interact and learn from the people relying on them for healthcare. Educating Patients Social media offers the opportunity to educate patients and the wider public. There are a number of ways to educate via social media. One way is to upload a link to new research about your area of specialty. For example, if you are a cardiologist, you may share a study that was completed about the impact of high cholesterol on overall cardiovascular health. Another popular option is to record Facebook Live or YouTube videos. This is an excellent way to share complicated information in a friendly and informal manner. Twitter is also a great platform as it allows you to put thoughts into your follower’s head. You will be limited to 140 characters and so it is important to utilise hashtags so people who are most interested can find your information easily. Furthermore, reports reveal that 20% of patients who use social media are using it to get healthcare information – and so, it is important for doctors to ensure that patients are receiving accurate, up-to-date material to avoid inaccuracies and potentially harmful effects. As anyone can post practically anything online, doctors use social media to post credible articles to combat misinformation. Other ways doctors enjoy combating false information is to post news and journal articles, credible online resources, and research studies for patients, other doctors and the general public to educate themselves with. By doing so, doctors are doing their part to utilise technology and more specifically social media to fight against the spread of inaccurate and potentially deadly health information. Reducing face-to-face appointments Technology is growing by leaps and bounds, and apps and websites now allow patients to have instant access to a physician via live video. Some insurance companies may cover the cost of the appointment. This digital way of conducting appointments is also beneficial for doctors, who can save time and money travelling to and from their office. Protecting your privacy online Although the use of social media is great as it allows thousands of doctors to connect with their patients and colleagues online and participate in medical debates - it is important you know how to protect your personal data online. Different social media platforms have different privacy settings and how secure or private you want to make your social media activity is up to you. Facebook – allows you to fine-tune your privacy settings to choose exactly who can see your posts. You can also control how easily others can find your profile. Twitter – allows you to make your tweets private, visible only to users you approve. Community websites and forums – e.g. the BMA’s Connecting Doctors platform, offer a variety of privacy options. A good rule is never to share or reveal anything on social media that you wouldn’t be happy to see printed in a newspaper. Online Harassment and Abuse Trolling is where someone seeks to provoke a negative response from others online. If you are subjected to online abuse our first tip is to ignore the trolls – most of them will go away if you do not give them your time or attention. However, if you are finding online messages or comments upsetting or distracting, you can mute or block their account. You can also report posts that are harassment, threats or spam. You can find details on how to do so on each platform’s Help Centre. It is illegal to threaten or harass someone online and the police should take it seriously if you report it. If you are an international doctor who is interested in relocating to the UK and working within the NHS send your CV to – and we will be happy to help you. Come and say hello! Join our Facebook Group IMG Advisor. Here you will have access to frequent blog posts, the opportunity to ask questions and meet other IMGs! References Wither, D. (2018). How Doctors Are Using Social Media to Get Ahead - Social Media Explorer. [online] Social Media Explorer. Available at: [Accessed 15 Jul. 2018]. (2018). BMA - Social media guidance for doctors. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Jul. 2018].

UK lifted work restrictions for Croatians

By Gabrielle Richardson
July 06, 2018

When Croatia joined the EU in 2013, the UK and other member states were able to restrict the access that Croatian citizens had to their labour markets for a maximum of 7 years before Croatia became a full EU member. The UK is one of a few EU countries (Austria, Slovenia and the Netherlands) which applied such measures. The restrictions have meant that, unless an exemption applied, Croatians needed permission from the Home Office to work in the UK. However, Croatians could travel to and from the UK freely for visiting purposes. In March, the government announced that the restriction on Croatian workers in the UK will be lifted. Minister of State for Immigration, Caroline Nokes said in a written statement to Parliament: "circumstances were different to 2011 when the government decided to extend "transitional controls" five years after Romania and Bulgaria had joined the EU."  She said that recent estimates suggest there are fewer than 10,000 Croatian nationals living in the UK. Thus, to increase migration the UK lifted the restriction on Croatian workers on Saturday 30th June 2018. This change gives Croatian migrants the same rights as other European Economic Area (EEA) nationals. What about Brexit? "We will not discriminate between nationals of the EU member states in our implementation of the Citizens' Rights deal. Croatian citizens will be able to apply for settled status on the same terms as all other EU citizens. "We have been clear that we will take back control of immigration and our borders when we leave the EU, and we will put in place an immigration system which works in the best interests of the whole of the UK." Caroline Nokes, Minister of State for Immigration References BBC News. (2018). UK to lift work restrictions for Croatians. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Jul. 2018]


By Gabrielle Richardson
July 05, 2018

The NHS turns 70 Today, the UK’s national health service turns 70 years old – and it is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the achievements of one of the nation’s most loved institutions, to appreciate the vital roles the service plays in our lives and to thank the remarkable NHS staff – the everyday heroes. To celebrate BDI Resourcing’s love for the NHS we hosted an NHS 70Tea Party. We had music, cake and games. In this article you can read about the history of the NHS, reasons why we love the UK’s healthcare system and we share some photographs of our celebratory tea party.   History of the NHS On 5th July 1948, the NHS was launched by the then Health Secretary, Aneurin Bevan, at Park Hospital in Manchester (known today as Trafford General Hospital). For the first time, hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists were brought together under one umbrella to provide services for free at the point of delivery. Over the last 70 years, the NHS has transformed the health and wellbeing of the UK nation. The NHS has delivered huge medical advances and improvements to public health, meaning we can all expect to live longer lives. Before the introduction of the NHS, the average male was expected to live to 65 years of age, but today, male life expectancy has risen to 79 years of age. Life expectancy has increased from 70 years to 83 years for females. It is thanks to the NHS that we have all but eradicated diseases such as polio and diphtheria, and pioneered new treatments like the world’s first liver, heart and lung transplant. Recently, we have seen innovations like mechanical thrombectomy to improve stroke survival, bionic eyes to restore sight and surgical breakthroughs such as hand transplants. We have previously written posts on why doctors, nurses and other NHS employees enjoy working for the NHS, but in celebration of the NHS turning 70 and the amazing service they provide to the UK public we wanted to share what we at BDI Resourcing enjoy about the NHS… Ryan: “I love the NHS as it has cared for my family members when they needed it most with compassion and dignity.” Luke: “I love the NHS as it is one of the few health services that offers free healthcare” Tom: “I love the NHS because they provide world class support and treatment for everyone, regardless of how much money you have, your race, your gender or your age. The NHS belongs to everyone.” Elliott: “I love the NHS because of how it welcomes so many great Doctors from overseas and helps to pave the way for a more multi-cultural society!” Sebastian: “I love the NHS because by being a free service, it allows patients treatments that they would never be able to afford if they had to find the money themselves, pro-longing lives and giving families the opportunity to be normal.” Jason: “I love the NHS because the support and guidance it has given to my wife and I through having 3 amazing children has been second to none and you can see the pure passion the doctors and nurses have to help their patients. It has also provided great treatment resolutions to the various broken bones that my children and I have broken over the past few years allowing us to continue normal life. I would also like to thank the NHS for the extended life it gave to my best friend. The support and treatment given by the service gave me the opportunity to make an amazing friend and without the NHS providing such amazing unprejudiced care he would not have lived the life he lived. Thank you.” Daniel: “I love the NHS because it continues to be regarded as one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Despite its stresses and strains it is always a constant part of British life and culture which we treasure” Gabbie: “I love the NHS because on every doctor and hospital visit you experience the passion and care from all doctors and nurses. They work hard and long hours dedicating their lives to saving others and to me, that is a big inspiration”. Sean: “I love the NHS because the hard work and professionalism of the doctors and nurses saved my Dads life.  He was found to have a problem with his heart and the quality of care he received was incredible and he didn’t have to pay a penny. Long live the NHS and the people it saves.” Guess the baby competition..... One of the games we pled at our tea party was "guess the baby". Each of us had to bring in a picture of us as a baby and then the rest of the team had to guess the baby! Here are some of the team replicating their baby pics!

What will the NHS look like in 30 years?

By Gabrielle Richardson
June 25, 2018

On Thursday 5th July 2018 the NHS turns 70. And as with any big birthday it prompts thoughts on what's to come for the UK's healthcare system. Will the NHS be here in 30 years? The NHS is close to every Briton's heart and is always at the top of the agenda for all political parties. Just last week, Theresa May announced that the NHS is to receive an additional £20 billion a year by 2023 in what ministers are calling a 70th “birthday present”. This reinforces what a special case the health service is, given that it is the only area of spending that has been agreed outside of the normal process. The love of the NHS can be further emphasised as the suggestion of introducing more charges, for example for seeing a GP, missing a hospital appointment or using A&E, have been quickly dismissed by ministers of all backgrounds in recent years. Fewer Hospitals In the 1960's, the UK saw a huge programme of hospital-building, creating the network of district general hospitals that are still used today. During the Blair government, these hospitals were updated and more Trusts were built. However, today, there is an undoubted shift away from hospital care. One reason for this is that some of the NHS care has moved out of hospitals and into the community. This is because it is cheaper and often better for the patient, for example older people are particularly at risk of losing their independence the longer they spend in hospital. Over the past 20 years the number of hospital beds has shrunk by a third. Robots will be doing surgery It is predicted that technology is perhaps where we could see the biggest changes. Robots currently exist within the NHS, or least robotic-assisted surgery - this is where doctors control robotic equipment from a console. The equipment can be more precise and is able to go where human hands could find it difficult to reach. It is also predicted that we will soon see the NHS use artificial intelligence. New era of medicine Genomic medicine - is the tailoring care based on an individual's unique genetic code - and it is beginning to change the way people are cared for. For example, genes can predict if a woman with breast cancer might respond to certain drugs, or whether radiotherapy is likely to shrink a tumour. England's chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, has urged the NHS to move more quickly and embrace the "genomic dream". Others have said much the same about digital technologies. Video consultations are beginning to be used to connect care homes and hospitals, while telecare is being installed in people's homes to allow health and care staff to remotely monitor and interact with vulnerable patients. But again progress has proved slow. While many of our daily activities are now done online - from shopping to socialising - the NHS still relies very heavily on older technologies. Fun fact - the NHS is said to be the biggest purchaser of pagers, faxes and stamps in the world. If nothing else, that should certainly change by the time the NHS is celebrating its centenary year. If you are an international doctor who wants to relocate to the UK and work within the NHS send your CV to – and we will be happy to help you. In addition, if you would like support form an online forum of other IMG’s join our Facebook Group IMG Advisor. Alternatively, if you are an NHS hospital who would like support in finding permanent doctors to replace long-term costly locum doctors – contact us at References BBC News. (2018). Forget 70 - what will the NHS look like at 100?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Jun. 2018]

Medical cannabis to be reviewed by UK government

By Gabrielle Richardson
June 21, 2018

The use of medicinal cannabis is to be reviewed, which could lead to more prescriptions of drugs made from the plant, the Home Secretary Sajid Javid has said. This decision was prompted by recent high-profile cases of children with severe epilepsy being denied access to cannabis oil to control seizures. Javid stressed the drug would remain banned for recreational use. The review would be held in two parts, Mr Javid told MPs. The first will make recommendations on which cannabis-based medicines might offer real medical and therapeutic benefits to patients. In the second part, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs will consider whether changes should be made to the classification of these products after assessing "the balance of harms and public health needs". He said: "If the review identifies significant medical benefits, then we do intend to reschedule [change the rules]." As doctors, let us know what you think and comment your thoughts below! And if you are an IMG who wants to relocate to the UK and practise medicine within the NHS send your CV to - and one of our Specialist Advisers will be in touch. Come and join our Facebook Group IMG Advisor! This group is specifically for IMG's who would like to receive support and guidance on relocating. It also allows you the opportunity to communicate and meet other IMG's. References BBC News. (2018). Medicinal cannabis use to be reviewed. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Jun. 2018].

PM says the NHS is to get an extra £20bn a year by 2023 as a 70th "birthday present"

By Gabrielle Richardson
June 18, 2018

Theresa May says the NHS will receive an extra £20bn a year by 2023 as a 70th "birthday present". This means the £114bn budget will rise by an average of 3.4% annually.  May said "we're going to ensure there is a ten-year plan for the NHS. A plan for world-class health care - more doctors, more nurses. It means extra money - significantly more money going into the NHS." How will this be funded? The Prime Minister said this would be funded party by a "Brexit dividend", but also hinted at tax rises as she stated "as a country we will be contributing more, a bit more, but also we will have that sum of money that is available from the European Union." What does this mean? The NHS “will be growing significantly faster than the economy as a whole, reflecting the fact that the NHS is this government’s number-one spending priority,” May will say, according to extracts released in advance. “This money will be provided specifically for the NHS. This means reduced A&E waiting times and staff shortage and more money into research.   If you are an IMG who wants to relocate to the UK and work within the NHS send your CV to and we will be happy to help you. And head over to our Facebook Group: IMG Advisor for an online support network of IMG’s who want to relocate to the UK. References BBC News. (2018). Theresa May unveils £20bn boost for NHS. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Jun. 2018].

The British Public and the NHS

By Gabrielle Richardson
May 30, 2018

What do the British public think of the NHS On Thursday 5th July 2018 the NHS turns 70. The birthday of the UK’s health system is an opportunity to appreciate the nation’s most loved institution and to thank the extraordinary NHS staff – without their skill, dedication, and compassion, the system would not exist. BDI Resourcing is proud to support the NHS and in celebration of its 70th birthday this article is going to explore the UK public’s views of their healthcare system and list the reasons why NHS employees love working for fifth largest employer in the entire world. British Social Attitudes Survey The British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey has been carried out annually since 1983 and is the longest-running survey in the UK. The BSA covers a range of topics which includes the role of government, moral issues, Brexit, immigration and the NHS. In celebration of NHS 70, this year the BSA conducted a survey on public attitudes to the health and care system. The survey asked: How satisfied is the British public with the NHS overall? Polling shows that the NHS remains a treasured national institution that is a fundamental part of the British national identity. The public is unwavering in its support for the underlying principles of the NHS and research reveals that the public consistently prioritises the health service for extra government funding above other public services such as education, welfare and defence. Although the public’s support for the NHS’ principles does not change, their satisfaction with the service is not as constant resultant of waiting times, funding and surrounding political issues. The BSA then asked, ‘how satisfied are you with the way the NHS runs nowadays?’. This year, satisfaction with the service was at 57%, 6 percent lower than last year. Thinking about the NHS over the next few years do you expect it to...? The study revealed that most of the UK public think the quality of the NHS will stay the same or get slightly worse – these thoughts are fundamentally related to resourcing issues. These issues include long waiting times, lack of funding and lack of staff. Thus, the negative views of the system are simply due to incorrect governmental decisions rather than the core principles of the health service. What can BDI Resourcing do to help? Overall, the study reveals that the UK public will always be an advocate for the NHS and it is strongly imprinted in their heritage. And due to this love for the institution, most of the UK public worry about whether the system will be sustainable based on its lack of staff and waiting times – creating a large call for change. Here at BDI Resourcing, we also worry about the NHS’ growing staff shortage. Recent statistics, obtained by the BBC reveal that tens of thousands of NHS doctors and nursing posts are vacant. Resultantly, at BDI Resourcing our primary aim is to help the NHS become more sustainable and help meet the needs of an ageing population. Currently, we work with over 35 NHS Trusts across the entire UK to provide them with permanent international doctors. By adding to the NHS workforce, we have reduced both patient waiting times and the system’s spending on costly long-term locum agency staff – overall increasing patient satisfaction and employee welfare. A career in the NHS – there is nothing quite like it. Conscious of the UK’s public worry and care towards the NHS and in celebration of NHS 70 we wanted to provide you with a list of the reasons why NHS staff love working for the UK’s health system. Let us know if you agree in the comments or share your reasons why you want to work for the NHS. Training The NHS prides itself on supporting its staff to learn new skills and develop their skills as there is a strong focus on training and helping staff to progress. Most international doctors want to relocate to the UK and work for the NHS simply due to the lack of opportunities in their home country. So, whether you are part-time or a full-time NHS employee, the NHS offers a chance to gain extra skills and training with regular reviews and development via the Knowledge and Skills framework. Rewarding work Another core reason doctors enjoy working for the NHS is the level of satisfaction they receive from caring for people. Pension Scheme The NHS offers one of the best pension schemes in the UK, which will help you to secure a better future. NHS employees are entitled to a pension as well as a tax-free lump sum when they retire, which allows you to thoroughly enjoy your retirement years after many years of fantastic service. Work-life balance The NHS recognises its demanding nature and therefore offers flexibility to their staff to allow them to keep their personal commitments. Childcare and school support are also offered. With options such as shift work, part-time roles, and job shares, the ability to maintain a work-life balance is one of the core attractions of the NHS. So, if you are interested in using our services to help provide you with permanent doctors over costly agency locums then get in touch with us at – and we will be happy to help! Alternatively, if you are an IMG who wants to relocate to the UK and work for the NHS then send your CV to and one of our Specialist Advisers will be able to provide you with tailored advice. And head over to our Facebook Group: IMG Advisor for an online support network of IMG’s who want to relocate to the UK. Referencing NHS at 70. (2018) [ebook] Ipsos Mori. Available at: BBC News. (2018). Thousands of NHS posts lie vacant. [online] Available at:

Mental Health Awareness Week

By Gabrielle Richardson
May 14, 2018

This year, for Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May 2018), hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, the focus is on stress. Research has shown that two-thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lifetime, and stress is a key factor in this. The World Health Organisation describes mental health as ‘a state of well-being in which the individual realises their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’. Mental health generally refers to how we think, feel, act and how we are able to cope with life; in other words, how we behave and relate to our surroundings. The same way we need to look after our physical health, our mental health requires equal attention in order for us to function. Today, one in six adults in Britain will experience depression, anxiety, or problems related to stress at any one time. And this year, Mental Health First Aid England has launched a campaign, “#addressyourstress” which teaches people about stress and the most common sources, as well as self-care techniques they can use to deal with stress. Therefore, in appreciation of Mental Health Awareness Week BDI Resourcing is going to join the campaign #addressyourstress – by providing you with six key tips on how to look after your mental health. Talk about your feelings Talking about how you feel when you are stressed, worried, or upset can help you take charge of your wellbeing. Being listened to will help you feel supported and less alone – and this works both ways. If you open up to a friend or family member, it might encourage them to do the same. It is not always easy to talk about your feelings, so if you are struggling to find the words try and write it down and you might be able to express yourself a little easier. The more you talk about your problems, the easier it will get. And remember, a problem shared is a problem halved. Be Active Being active has great benefits for both your mental health and physical health. Evidence shows that regular exercise can benefit the body in many ways. First, exercise causes chemical changes in the brain, which can help to positively change our mood. Second, being active can create a greater feeling of self-esteem and the ability to rise to a challenge. Third, physical activity can help people with mild depression and those with anxiety by improving their mood and approach to situations. Remember, that being active does not mean that you must spend endless hours in the gym if that does not appeal to you or suit your busy lifestyle. But try to find physical activities that you enjoy and can fit into your everyday routine. This includes walking over taking the bus or taking the stairs over the lift, small changes like this can go a long way. Eat Well Research has shown that the food we eat can have a long-lasting effect on our mental health. Your brain needs a balance of essential nutrients to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A healthy balanced diet includes: A variety of fruit and vegetables Nuts and seeds Dairy products Wholegrain cereals Oily fish Plenty of water It is important to eat three meals a day and drink enough water – and try to limit how many high-caffeine or sugary drinks you have and avoid drinking too much alcohol. Spend time with family and friends Humans are inherently social beings, and socialisation creates a sense of connection with other beings, which is an important component of stress reduction. By calling a friend, spending time with family or joining a sports group can decrease the sense of loneliness whilst promoting the feelings of safety, security, belonging and enjoyment. Social support increases our levels of a hormone called oxytocin, which functions to decrease anxiety levels and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system calming down responses. Oxytocin also stimulates our desire to seek social contact and increases our sense of attachment to people who are important to us. Tips for increasing socialisation: Join a group or take a class that is of interest to you. This can range from religious groups, sporting groups or hobby groups. Make time for friends and family. Plan to meet for coffee, days out or exercise together. Introduce yourself to work colleagues or neighbours Ask for help We all get overwhelmed by how we feel when things go wrong. So, if you feel that things are getting too much for you or you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Your family or friends may be able to offer a listening ear or practical help, but you should also remember that local services are there to help you. For example, you could: Join a support group to help you make changes to your life e.g. Weight Watchers or Alcoholics Anonymous Find a counsellor to help you with your feelings Visit a Citizens Advice Bureau for advice on various things such as immigration, health, housing debt If you would like to see a counsellor but don’t know how to go about it – your GP may be able to refer you. Over a third of visits to GPs are about mental health, and they may refer you to a specialist or another part of the health service. Take a break When you are feeling overwhelmed, a change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. This could include a walk in the park, meditation or visiting a new place. Just an hour a day can be enough to de-stress you and give yourself some important ‘me-time’. Furthermore, it is important to try and listen to your body, if you are tired - give yourself time to sleep. Sleep is an essential human function as it allows our brains to re-energise and lets our bodies rest. When we do not get enough sleep, our bodies do not receive the full benefits such as muscle repair and memory consolidation. The importance of sleep is so vital to our health that even slight deprivation can affect our mood, judgement, and memory. If sleep deprivation occurs over long periods of time then it can lead to chronic sleep deprivation which could then develop into severe health problems such as obesity, high blood pressure and depression. Recent reports show that for many people when their stress levels increase their quality of sleep decreases. Therefore, it is crucial to stay on top of both. Tips on how to get a better night’s sleep: 1. Avoid Stimulants – do not drink caffeinated drinks or eat refined sugar before sleeping as it causes the body to become alert rather than relax which is vital to getting to sleep. 2. Healthy Diet – Maintaining a healthy balanced diet is essential to helping your body repair itself. Calcium and Magnesium rich foods, such as milk and green leafy vegetables can help to relax body muscle. 3. Boost Melatonin Level at Night – Melatonin is the hormone that helps the body regulate a sleep-wake cycle and its production is controlled by light exposure. The brain produces more melatonin during the night when it is dark so it is important to try to reduce your screen exposure from TV’s, phones and tablets at least an hour before you go to bed. If you are an IMG who wants to relocate to the UK and work for the NHS then send your CV to – and one of our Specialist Advisers will be happy to guide and support you through your journey to the UK. We look forward to hearing from you! Alternatively, head over to our Facebook Group: IMG Advisor for an online support network of IMG’s who want to relocate to the UK.

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