All new doctors should undergo an induction programme before practising in the UK, under a new strategy published this month.
The move comes three years after the death of David Gray whilst in the care of locum GP Dr Daniel Ubani, and is contained in the GMC’s first report on the state of medical education and practice in the UK.
More than a third of registered doctors in the UK complete their primary medical qualification outside the UK, with 564 international doctors and 224 from the European Economic Area registering with the GMC in 2010.
However, the GMC is now recommending all new doctors, including medical students and those coming to the UK from overseas, now complete an induction programme. The course would involve education on UK medical practice and cultural differences.
The report says: ‘As a contribution to help support doctors who are new to UK practice, we intend to work with employers and professional organisations to develop a basic induction programme.’
‘Ideally we believe that all doctors should have to complete the programme before they practise, whether they are trained in the UK, elsewhere in Europe or further afield as everyone who treats patients needs to be supported to do that safely.’
The GMC is prohibited by European law to test the language skills, competency or challenge the medical qualifications of doctors from the EU, although employers may do so. The regulator reiterated its commitment to change these laws with the UK Government’s help.
GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: ‘While there is much to celebrate about medical practice in the UK, the challenges are also clear – we must do more to make sure that all doctors understand the standards expected of them.’
‘Developing an induction programme for all doctors new to our register will give them the support they need to practise safely and to conform to UK standards. This will provide greater assurance to patients that the doctor treating them is ready to start work on day one.’
A Pulse investigation last October found that just a quarter of EU doctors on performers lists had undergone language tests, and fewer than one doctor in five had undergone tests of their clinical competency.
Both the GMC and the BMA have called for urgent reform of EU law that apparently prevents the GMC from assessing the clinical competence and language skills of foreign doctors from the EU, as it does for those from outside Europe.
A DH spokesperson supported the GMC proposal: ‘We agree that medical training needs to be sufficiently flexible to adapt to changing healthcare needs and that doctors who are new to the NHS need to be properly inducted, including having language skills that are of a high enough standard.’
Director of the NHS Employers organisation Dean Royles added: ‘Care happens best when employers and doctors work together to create a culture of learning in the workplace. The NHS Employers organisation will work with the GMC and other partners to help ensure that local induction processes meet the needs of the doctor, the employer and the regulator for the benefit of patients.’