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Independents' Day

International GPs will not be required to take second language test

Changes to language test requirements will make it easier for overseas GPs to work in the UK, the Home Office has said.

The Government has announced that international doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives, who submit applications from October onwards will not be required to pass a second English language test before entering the UK on a Tier 2 visa.

Officials said the change 'will reduce costs and bureaucracy' for healthcare professionals 'looking to come and work in the UK and support our NHS'.

Concerns have previously been raised by recruitment agencies that international recruitment is being slowed down by Brexit

Under current rules, overseas doctors who wish to apply for the Tier 2 visa must prove their knowledge of English by sitting an immigration English language test in addition to a test accepted by the GMC, such as the International English Language Test System (IELTS) or the Occupational English Test (OET).

Home secretary Seema Kennedy said the Home Office has streamlined English language testing to ensure international health professionals including doctors do not have to sit the immigration language test in a bid to help 'reduce costs and bureaucracy'.

She said: 'I have made a change to the immigration rules which will reduce costs and bureaucracy for doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives looking to come and work in the UK and support our NHS.

'This change will ensure that these medical professionals, who have passed a robust English language test, which includes identity checks, and are required to register with their regulatory body, do not have to sit a separate, lower-level immigration English language test.

'This will support the Government’s desire to continue to attract the best and brightest global talent to the UK and to encourage migrants to integrate into society, without compromising the safety of those using our health services.'

The Home Office said the change 'will make sure that hospitals and medical practices across the country will be able to access the staff they need more quickly.'

Sujata Stead, CEO of Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment, which owns the OET, said: 'We are absolutely delighted that healthcare professionals can now take OET for both visa and registration purposes.

'This will enormously reduce the burden on overseas-trained professionals seeking to work in the UK.'

Last week, Pulse learned that the international recruitment scheme has brought 12 GPs to Northamptonshire in just six months since the beginning of the scheme.

The international recruitment scheme initially aimed to recruit 500 foreign doctors by 2020 when it was set up in April 2016. A year later, NHS England increased its goal to between 2,000 and 3,000 GPs.

However, only 120 overseas doctors had been recruited by June this year - 70 of which are in the country in placements or seeing patients in practices. 

Meanwhile, NHS England and the GMC have launched a joint app to help international GPs prepare for general practice in the UK

Are you looking for a new GP job? Search through 100s of vacancies on Pulse GP Jobs, our job site designed to help GPs find their next career move.

Readers' comments (13)


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  • If you have cleared all these tests then why does the RCGP conduct the CSA - communication skills assessment.

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  • This reminds me of the time when the RCGP in its infinite wisdom allowed IMG candidates from third world countries to bring their dictionaries in with them to the GP assessment centre lmfao. This is no joke I remember it like yesterday. if people can’t speak English to begin with then surely they shouldn’t be allowed to bring dictionaries into an English language medical exam? And then to fail them at the CSA two years later for their poor English and “communication” skills is just a masochistic exercise that has backfired spactacularly

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  • National Hopeless Service

    One head, one arm or two............

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  • Took Early Retirement

    The govt is clearly desperate and will do ANYTHING rather than pay GPs a proper rate for the job.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Ha ha ha
    This government, quintessentially , is fraught with utilitarianism . Keep topping up the number of GPs will solve this crisis ?
    My gentle reminder to you , Robocop and MojoBojo (and all the subordinates) : discern the fact of the matter before applying the principles and virtues . Why are you haemorrhaging GPs way faster than you could employ ? Stop putting the cart in front of the horse , you stupid f***🥴

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  • So much for best care. The government is willing to do anything except improve working pay and conditions to keep the existing GPs and trainees. I find it incredible to allow a doctor that cannot even understand the patient due to a language problem to practice.

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  • Agree with all of the above. We probably spent more money to recruit than paying the GPs properly

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  • Great story Harry @7.52pm, except its completely fake news.

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  • @cedric it ain’t fake mate. It’s 100% real. Just ask the “northern deanery”..I dare you

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  • @Harry- are you confusing this with the entrance exam to GP training run by the deaneries?
    All my trainees taking the AKT were told in no uncertain terms that NOTHING in paper form was allowed into the exam. Also all my IMG trainees had passed PLAB and the language tests before they could start working in UK, so their medial language skills had already been assessed. i think the data from the RCGP shows that exam failure in CSA is not because of poor communication skills but not being able to diagnose, manage etc. Delighted to say all my IMG trainees have passed first time.

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  • @Cedrick - yes the dictionaries were allowed into the GP assessment fake news there...and as for northern deanery who soaked up a disproportionately large number of IMGs they should have known that they were recruiting doctors who were allowed into their programmes based on exams whereby a foreign doctor who had poor English skills was allowed to go in there with a dictionary? These were doctors who had presumably passed plab and language tests and were licensed clinicians so why were they allowed dictionaries into the exam? Could it be that the language tests were not rigorous enough? Ridiculous if you ask me. Plus I would not trust what the RCGP tells you about why certain people fail or pass their exams.

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  • last time i read was£100m assigned for recruiting international Gps,so we got 120 recruited so far not enough, decision to drop IELTS BANDSCORE TO 5.5... ok we not reaching the target let stop the english exam all together.. this foreign dr can't communicate.. patient safety issue referred to gmc for 'incompetence' suspended or manslaughter charges
    meanwhile more than 400 gp trainees mostly BMES locked out by csa after 3-4 yrs of training.. . rcgp thinking of ?6th attempt csa
    it looks like RCGP can do things as it pleases, not sure who is winning.

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