THE Covid pandemic saved a Swindon student from ending up in the middle of a war zone.
Saaira Ahmed was studying for a medical degree at the Dnipro Medical Institute of Traditional and Non-Traditional Medicine in Ukraine last year.
But after returning home for the festive season, a rise in the number of cases in the country led the university to decide to take classes online. And it was closed when Russia invaded.
Now Saaira is desperately trying to find a hospital in the UK where she can complete the 5,500 hours of clinical work experience to qualify to register with the UK General Medical Council and complete her UK medical degree. .
“I was one of the lucky ones because I came back for Christmas,” she said. “Then in February we started hearing that a potential war might be taking place and the UK Embassy advised against all travel to Ukraine.”
When she first heard the news of the university closing, she tried to get in touch with different universities in the UK to see if she could transfer to complete her studies here and was informed of the GMC requirement.
So she approached the Great Western Hospital, hoping that her volunteer work since the age of 14 would serve her well. But she was told there was no service level agreement or funding agreement with her university.
A disappointed Saaria said: I have supported the local community and hospital staff for 13 years from a young age in the many different roles I have had. I now want to know how my community, including GWH, will support me.
In a statement, the hospital said: “We would be delighted to host him, but as we are not a teaching university, we really only accept medical students from the University of Oxford, ‘University of Bristol or King’s College London.’
The British Medical Association said there was currently a shortage of around 50,000 doctors in the UK.
A petition has been started to help UK citizens and residents studying medicine and dentistry in Ukraine to complete their studies in the UK.
He says: ‘We call on the UK government to help British students arriving from Ukraine to continue their studies safely, away from a perilous war zone.
“We are also asking all UK medical schools to review and assess our situation and ask institutions to respond with some flexibility in their student transfer policies.”
To view the petition, click here.