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First candidates take new GMC overseas doctor test

The first candidates have begun taking the GMC’s new, harder test for overseas doctors looking to work in the UK, which they need to pass to practise in this country.

The newly revamped Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test launched by the GMC at the beginning of September includes more simulated clinical tests that reflect real-life consultations.

The GMC announced in March plans to make the test for international doctors looking to practice in the UK harder.

The move followed an independent review of the assessment commissioned by the GMC and published in 2014, which found that PLAB graduates had poorer clinical knowledge and skills than UK graduates on average, according to their performance in the MRCGP exam.

The new test includes:

  • A broader written test with more feedback for the candidates on their performance
  • Practical questions and scenarios that assess a candidate’s ethics as well as clinical skills
  • A two-year limit in which to apply for a licence after passing the test and a four-attempt limit on taking the test itself.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: ‘This improved test will help make sure doctors are reaching the high standards we require to practise safely in the UK. The contribution made by doctors who come here from outside Europe is invaluable to healthcare throughout the UK and these changes will provide extra assurance – it has to be right that they should pass a stringent assessment.’

Readers' comments (12)

  • Practical questions and scenarios which assess a candidate’s ethics as well as clinical skills


    Sounds like an opportunity for some institutionalized discrimination

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  • PLAB exam if real life

    Station 1: How to cope with a diazepam demander and sick note scrounger threatening to kill themselves in the waiting room if you dont give in.

    Station 2: Deal with a complaint for not issuing heel balm cream on repeat.

    Station 3: Viagra needed urgently OOHs as girlfriend coming around in an hour.

    Station 4: Decipher an illegible discharge summary

    Station 5: Deal with 6 presenting complaints in a 10 minute appointment while coding all the QOF boxes

    Station 6: Find someone at the CMHT who is actually medically qualified to take your emergency referral

    Station 7: My sore throat needs antibiotics and Im not leaving until you issue them.

    Station 8: Methotrexate injection titration dumping from secondary care.

    Station 9: Alcohol withdrawal at 1825 hrs.

    Station 10: Learn how to be resilient when the GMC referral arrives on your doorstep.

    Far more realistic than what candidates will receive.

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  • Why would anyone want to be a doctor in the U.K. Being at the whim of the vexatious patient, the doctor hating GMC CQC NHSE and OMBUDSMAN, and the risk of being taken to court and jailed for problems out of your control. Go to the USA, Australia, New Zealand or Canada where you can earn a good living, be paid per patient seen and not drown in the stuff we have to put up with in th uk. Don't be an Idiot and don't do it.

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  • Poor overseas candidates.cash cows for UK treasury.
    NHS is on verge of collapsing.poor quality care.
    All these drama is because you dont have resources.just do lip service

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  • IMGs are the scapegoats ,
    No IMG should come to this country to work. the whole world is open to you where you will be respected .

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  • I totally agree with 6.39 comments. You must be kidding me if you say imgs clinical knowledge is poor. Their theoretical knowledge is way better than the graduates here,atleast for most of them. Yes i do agree that their communication skills are poor. In this country to practice medicine sometimes your communication skills are more important than your clinical skills,
    Especially dealing with the above scenarios.

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  • Initially the pass rates will be good.

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  • This comment has been moderated.

  • Anonymous 6.39- salute you, you have put real life scenario on paper!!

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  • 6.39 - you've made my day - thanks mate

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  • 6.39 here. You may think they are made up, but every one of those has happened to me, or a GP partner colleague, in the last 3 years.

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