Numbers of international doctors applying to work in the UK are expected to reach over 5,000 this year, up from nearly 3,000 in 2017, the GMC has said.
But some overseas doctors who have met the GMC’s requirements and are ready to work in the UK have been prevented from doing so by difficulties in securing a visa, the regulator added.
The influx of non-EU doctors applying to work in the UK is being supported by the GMC, which has called for legislative change to remove bureaucratic barriers for foreign trained doctors to work in equivalent rol;es in the UK.
The GMC, which assesses the skills of non-EU doctors who want to join the UK medical register, said that it planned to add new test dates at weekends to the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board exams (PLAB) and to offer workshops to foreign doctors to help them adapt to working in a new culture.
The number of foreign doctors taking the PLAB test has nearly doubled since 2014 when 1,728 examinations were taken.
GMC assistant director of registration Jane Durkin said: ‘The medical professional in the UK relies on the expertise of doctors from overseas. Their contribution and the diversity of experience they bring are invaluable.’
The GMC warned however that despite the number of international doctors applying to join the register rising, there was ‘still some way to go to ensure we can meet challenges in demand to make up the shortfall [in new doctors] heightened by a drop in medical students at UK universities in recent years and greater uptake of flexible working and career breaks.’
It also said it had called on the Government to address issues with visa barriers.
The news comes as BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul has written to home secretary Amber Rudd to request that she steps in to overturn the Home Office’s bid to expel a UK-educated GP trainee.
Tens of thousands of people have signed an online petition demanding that the Home Office halt moves to deport Dr Luke Anthony Ong, just months before he qualifies as a GP.
Dr Nagpaul’s letter said that ‘failing to intervene would be incomprehensible given that the Government is prepared to spend millions recruiting GPs from abroad’.