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GMC to consult on keeping GP registration process for international graduates

The GMC is set to consult on whether international graduates can continue to gain a medical license by demonstrating their eligibility for GP registration.

The consultation, which will open in December, will propose continuing to allow international medical graduates (IMGs) to gain a medical license by demonstrating their eligibility for GP registration after a new assessment comes into effect in 2022. 

The new assessment – the Medical Licensing Assessment (MLA) – will see UK medical students and IMGs take the same applied knowledge test if they want to practice in the UK.

Currently, just over half of IMGs take the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test to gain a medical licence to practise in the UK, the GMC has said.

The rest demonstrate their abilities through an acceptable postgraduate qualification, participation in a GMC-approved sponsorship scheme or eligibility for specialist or GP registration.

However, the GMC has said they will need to consult on whether these three alternative pathways will remain open. 

The GMC told Pulse in a statement that when it replaces ‘PLAB with the MLA in 2022, we propose that these alternative pathways should continue to exist’. 

The GMC said removing these pathways would create ‘unnecessary barriers for skilled and experienced doctors who want to come to the UK to practise medicine’.

It said: ‘Many IMGs joining the register in these ways are at a stage in their training and practice that is beyond the level at which the MLA … will be set.’

It added: ‘Maintaining these pathways would be a flexible and proportionate approach to assuring ourselves that an IMG has demonstrated they meet the common threshold for safe practice in the UK… and would also make sure we don’t deter good doctors from coming to practise in the UK by introducing unnecessary hurdles.’

This comes after the GMC reviewed the Certificate of Eligibility for GP Registration to see if it can be simplified for doctors whose training is seen as equivalent to the UK GP programme, starting with those qualified in Australia.

GPs qualified in Australia will be able to go through a ‘streamlined’ process to certify their eligibility to practise in the UK and will receive relocation support.