May 17, 2008
The BAPIO case was recently decided on final appeal to the House of Lords. It arose out of what can reasonably described as an attempt by the Department of Health to exercise authority in the field of immigration – an exercise which was found by their Lordships to be unlawful.
The Secretary of State for Health has a statutory responsibility to provide medical and related services under the auspices of the National Health Service, a responsibility which includes the power to recruit and employ doctors and other medical staff. In the exercise of that power the Secretary of State from time to time issues guidance to NHS Trusts, which the Trusts will normally follow. In recent years it has been necessary in order to fill vacancies to recruit doctors who are not nationals of the UK or of any other Member State of the European Economic Area (EEA) and doctors in this category are known as international medical graduates (IMGs). The main source of IMGs has been the Indian subcontinent and doctors from there have their interests represented by the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO).