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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

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