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GMC approves development of single UK medical licensing assessment

Doctors will now take same test regardless of whether they qualified in the UK or overseas

Ingrid Torjesen

Monday, 08 June 2015

The General Medical Council (GMC) Council has approved a plan to work with partners to develop a unified assessment for every doctor seeking to practise in the UK.

The new assessment has been given a working title of the United Kingdom Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA). It will replace the current Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board test (PLAB) which is now taken by International Medical Graduates (IMGs). The GMC hopes the UKMLA will help to drive up standards and believes that over time it could become an international benchmark test for entry to medicine.

Professor Terence Stephenson, the Chair of the General Medical Council, said: “These are early days but the Council has decided that we should develop a licensing assessment which creates a straightforward and transparent route to medical practice in the UK.

“Medicine is an increasingly mobile profession and we must have systems in place which not only make sure that UK-trained graduates meet the required standards but that all doctors practising here have been examined and evaluated to the same high level.

“We believe it would be fairer and more reassuring for the public for there to be a standard for entry to the register that everyone can rely on. Over time we are confident that the UKMLA will help to drive up standards and that it could become an international benchmark test for entry to medicine.

“Our aspiration is that this assessment should apply to any doctor joining the medical register.”

The current aim is for the UKMLA model to be developed during 2016 and 2017 development, piloted in international medical graduates in 2018 and to go live in this group in 2019. During 2019 and 2020 it will be tested in UK graduates and rolled out to them in 2021.

However, a full public consultation will take place before the UKMLA is introduced.

“There is much to discuss and we are conscious that there is an enormous amount of detail still to be worked up,” Professor Stephenson explained. “We will now begin a second phase of work, engaging extensively with partners and groups affected, and with a range of expert advisers to help us identify the format, timing and content of the UKMLA.”

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