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International graduates to face 'more robust' test for working in UK

The GMC has raised the bar for international medical graduates (IMGs) wanting to work in the UK by ensuring the assessment that allows them to practise medicine in this country is ‘more robust’.

The number of times a non-EU doctor can retake the Professional and Linguistics Assessment (PLAB) test will be limited to four and a pass will be only valid for two years, rather than three, the GMC has announced following an independent review of the assessment.

The GMC-commissioned review, part of an ongoing evaluation of the test, also recommended the possibility of using two assessors at each stage of the PLAB’s practical objective structural clinical examination and called on the GMC to continue to analyse the disparity in postgraduate exams between PLAB candidates and UK medical graduates.

It also warned that the current two part - written and practical – test limits its ability to assess the ‘values and principles’ contained in the GMC’s Good Medical Practice. It recommended the introduction of another way of testing these values, possibly through a situational judgement test, saying the PLAB should be renamed to reflect its aims.

The PLAB test is designed to ensure that non-EU trained doctors demonstrate the same level of medical knowledge and clinical skills as UK graduates who have completed their first foundation training year (F1) and is required for IMGs to work in the UK.

The RCGP recommended last year that the GMC review the PLAB ‘as a matter of urgency’ saying it was ‘in the interests of patient safety’ after researchers found that graduates of the PLAB had poorer clinical knowledge and skills than UK graduates on average, according to their performance in the MRCGP exam.

The GMC said it ‘welcomed and accepted’ the recommendations of the review, chaired by Professor Ian Cumming, chief executive of Health Education England.

GMC chief executive, Niall Dickson said: ‘This has been a thorough review and its recommendations, which we fully accept, will help to make our test for overseas trained doctors as robust and effective as possible, ensuring that those who are admitted to the register are of the right standard.’

However he warned there was a vital role for employers to play.

He added: ‘Under current EU legislation we cannot check the competency of doctors coming from Europe and that is a major gap in our regulatory defences.’

‘It is vital that employers make sure that the doctors they take on have the skills to do the job for which they are appointed.’

The review also recommended that the GMC should recruit more female examiners for the practical part of the test. At present, it uses 135 examiners, of whom only 20 are women.

 

 

Readers' comments (9)

  • I qualified as a GP through Article 11 of the PMETB,.This means I can only practice in the UK (not Europe). I was born in the UK, educated in the UK, because I used 6/12 of training from my time as a doctor in NZ (outside of EU). The whole lot stinks that the GMC cannot check EU doctors but puts loads of restrictions on me (not that I want to work in the EU)

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  • 1. To all non EU doctors, try to get your MBBS from timbaktu of Europe, then migrate here.2. Due to visa restrictions, none of NON EU doctors cann't work more than 2 yrs here, so influx of non EU aka asian doctors are NIL now. GMC on cloud cukoo land, wait their PLAB revenue drops to ZERO, bunch of idiots at GMC

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  • The number of times an EU-doctor can retake the Professional and Linguistics Assessment (PLAB) test will be limited to four and a pass will be only valid for two years, rather than three, the GMC has announced following an independent review of the assessment.

    EU doctors do not need PLAB !! They have mutual recognition of degrees so if you qualified in UK you would automatically be able to work in any eastern european country.

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  • Nonsense, EU doctors do NOT need PLAB!!!!

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  • Whose head is rolling at the GMC?

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  • That is the reason why barriers have been set up between EU and non-EU doctors.

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  • This comment has been moderated.

  • I thinks its Typo they meant to say Non-EUdoctors can only take PLAB for 4 times

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  • Ahh, the UK where we have doctors in excess, we don't need any here so make it as hard as possible for people who might actually want to work here to come. We have too many GP's, specialists and hospitals so we can run a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, all you can eat service without the help of anyone, ever! Bless.

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  • As far as i understood, UK doesn't need any more IMG's. So, its better not to waste your time by creating new laws but to ban any form of IMG recruitment at once. This will save money, time, energy. .. everything. Thanks.

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