GMC gears up to support extra international doctors wanting to work in the UK
Hundreds more overseas doctors are applying to work in the UK each year, according to figures released by the General Medical Council (GMC).
The regulator assesses the skills of non-EU doctors who want to join the UK medical register, and 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 multiple choice and practical Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) exams means that the GMC is now adding additional test dates at weekends, in a move aimed at supporting a healthy supply of doctors into UK practice.
"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."
GMC Assistant Director of Registration
Jane Durkin, Assistant Director of Registration at the GMC, 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.
‘The medical profession in the UK relies on the expertise of doctors from overseas. Their contribution and the diversity of experience they bring are invaluable.’
The increased interest to work in the UK is welcome news for the medical workforce, as last year’s The state of medical education and practice in the UK report highlighted that the supply of new doctors to the UK is not keeping up with changes in patient demand.
Despite the number of international doctors applying to join the register now rising there is still some way to go to ensure we can meet challenges in demand to make up the shortfall, heightened by a drop in medical students at UK universities in recent years and greater uptake of flexible working and career breaks.
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 knows many doctors who trained outside the UK face challenges 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.
Jane 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.’