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Big rise in overseas doctors wanting to work in UK

GMC expects some 5,000 doctors to sit its qualification tests this year

Mark Gould

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Hundreds more overseas doctors are applying to work in the UK each year, according to new figures from the GMC.

According to Jane Durkin, the GMC's assistant director of registration at the GMC, 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 she says the GMC expect more than 5,000 doctors to take the exam.

The regulator, which assesses the skills of non-EU doctors who want to join the UK medical register, says it is adapting to deal with an increased demand in the numbers applying to take the practical exam they must pass before they can work here.

Demand for the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) exams means that the GMC is now adding additional test dates at weekends.

Despite the number of international doctors applying to join the register now rising the GMC says there is ‘still some way to go’ to meet challenges in demand to make up the shortfall of doctors, heightened by a drop in medical students at UK universities in recent years and greater uptake of flexible working and career breaks.

In addition, some overseas doctors, who have met the GMC’s requirements, are ready to work here but prevented from doing so by difficulties in securing a visa. The GMC is calling on the government to address this matter so that skilled doctors are able to start working here.

The GMC says it is aware of the challenges overseas doctors face in adapting to working in the UK. The regulator offers support for new arrivals to ease their transition into living and working here through a free, half-day ‘Welcome to UK’ practice workshop, held at locations across all four UK countries.

Ms Durkin added: "Starting to work in a new country can be extremely challenging for a doctor, regardless of how experienced they are. The workshops we hold aim to ease the transition of adapting to working in a new culture and share the experiences of doctors who discuss things they wish they had known when they started working here.

"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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