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11.04.18

GMC ups exam dates to meet growing overseas doctor applications

Hundreds more overseas doctors are applying to work in the UK each year, according to the General Medical Council’s (GMC’s) latest figures.

The body says it is adapting to deal with an increased demand in the numbers of doctors from outside of the EU wanting to practice in the UK.

Non-EU doctors are assessed by the GMC and applicants must pass a practical exam before they can work here.

The GMC is adding extra dates for the multiple choice and practical Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) at weekends, in a move to support a healthy supply of doctors to the UK.

The increased interest from overseas doctors wishing to work in the UK is welcome news for the overstretched medical workforce. Last year ‘The state of medical education and practice in the UK’ highlighted that the supply of new doctors is not keeping up with patient demand.

However, the GMC argued that there is still some way to go in order to make up the shortfall, which has been heightened by a drop in medical students at UK universities in recent years, as well as a greater uptake flexible working and career breaks.

Jane Durkin, assistant director of registration at the organisation, said: “Last year nearly 3,000 doctors travelled from across the world, to the GMC’s offices in Manchester, to sit the practical assessment to work in the UK.

“This year we expect more than 5,000 doctors to take the exam.”

She explained that the medical profession relies on the expertise of overseas doctors, and called their contribution and the diversity that they bring to the UK “invaluable.”

The GMC said that some overseas doctors who have met the regulator’s requirements are prevented from working due to difficulties in securing a visa, and it is calling on the government to address this matter so that skilled doctors can start working in the UK. This call comes just a few days after the BMA slammed the government for threatening to deport an established trainee doctor due to delays in his visa application process.

Durkin added: “But while we continue our work to support doctors who are new to the UK, and to provide a route to working here for those who are suitably qualified and who want to come, we still need legislative change.

“We need to be able to remove the bureaucratic barriers that make it difficult for foreign-trained doctors to work in equivalent roles in the UK.”

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