Debating India


Psychiatry goes the brain drain way

Anuradha KHER

Saturday 1 November 2003

After teachers and nurses it’s the psychiatrist’s turn to get lured by the Queen’s own country, UK .

Along with Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad the trend is taking Pune in its wings with doctors saying the English want more. Britain ’s National Health Service has been openly accused of indulging in the “Great Brain robbery”.

According to statistics from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, India has one psychiatrist per 30,0000 population in comparison to one per 90,000 population in UK .

From which, Maharashtra has approximately 500 psychiatrists, while the number of psychiatrists in Pune stands at about 80, who according to the latest reports have been bitten by the UK bug.

When there is an excess of manpower in any particular field, a foreign Government can take permission from the domestic Government to advertise for jobs.

That’s what the British Government has been doing for the last couple of years. The brain drain could be attributed to this. Moreover, applicants can now also do the procedure on-line through the department of Health UK .

But the process is anything but easy, and involves years of experience, several credentials, a good amount of research and various levels of screening to then finally be UK bound.

Hemant Chandorkar, Consultant Psychiatrist, Jehangir Hospital says, “For the last two years the British Government has sensed a shortage of consultant psychiatrists which they hope to fill up with this scheme.”

Elaborates Consultant, associate Professor and Head of Unit, Psychiatry Department, KEM Hospital Vinod Chowgule, “Doctors have two options, one is a training option for two years and the other is a permanent one. The criterion for selection is laid down by the Royal College of Psychiatry in UK . The entire process takes about a year and a half to complete.”

Dr Arvind Panchanithikar who is now an individual practitioner as well as cons u l t a n practitioner at KEM Hospital spent six year working in the UK, where he went through the ODTS (Overseas Doctor Training Scheme) of the Royal College of Psychiatry.

He adds, “The idea behind this scheme is to train doctors from various countries in Western medicine and fill up their shortage. Few years after I left, atleast eight doctors from Pune followed suit. Besides being lucrative option, for a psychiatrist it helps a great deal to work in different cultures, with different kinds of people.”

The Director General of Health Services, Government of India had recently pointed out that this is very serious matter for the country’s medical services.

Says Dr Alka Pawar, MIMH (Maharashtra Institute of Mental Health), “Almost fifty percent of the young psychiatry students are going abroad causing dearth for our country and action needs to be taken. This is seen among the senior doctors as well.”

See online :


The Times of India, Saturday, November 01, 2003.

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