This site is intended for health professionals only

Supervisors ‘ill prepared’ to support overseas doctors, finds research

Supervisors lack the knowledge, experience and skills to support overseas-trained doctors, according to new research.

An evaluation report by Newcastle University found that supervisors feel ‘ill prepared’ and ‘out of depth’ when it comes to supporting overseas doctors practising in the UK. 

The report, commissioned by the GMC, looked at the outcomes of the Welcome to UK Practice (WtUKP), a free half-day workshop which was established in 2013 to help doctors who qualified abroad and are considering, or already, working in the UK, to better understand the ethical issues they will face and the professional standards they are expected to meet. 

It comes after a previous GMC-commissioned review revealed that doctors trained outside the UK and those from a black and minority ethnic background are more likely to be investigated than their white peers.

The report said: ‘Supervisors stated that they felt ill prepared to support overseas qualified doctors and at times felt ‘out of their depth’, as they were unsure of the needs of overseas doctors. In some cases, only when concerns arose in practice did they assess individual learning needs.’

It added: ‘Supervisors generally recognised that overseas-qualified doctors needed support from their colleagues, but this was not always provided.

‘Indeed, they often observed a lack of understanding, intolerance and bullying. Negative experiences, including undermining and racism, were also highlighted by the overseas doctors themselves. Many of them reported feeling isolation, loneliness and a lack of peer support.’

Following the report, the GMC is extending the WtUKP workshop to be more accessible for doctors to attend. 

GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said: ‘Doctors who qualified overseas make a hugely valuable contribution to UK healthcare but, no matter how experienced a doctor is, the transition to working in a new country can be challenging.

‘We know it can be challenging for doctors to find time to attend a workshop, especially once they are working. However, more evening and weekend events, more locations, and linking sessions directly to when doctors are visiting the GMC, will make it easier.’

It follows the news that the RCGP has been threatened again with court action over the difference in MRCGP exam pass rates between black and minority ethnic doctors and the lack of action following the 2013 judicial review. 

The GMC has previously been criticised by organisation BAPIO for focusing on employer’s complaints about BME doctors rather than the way the regulator treats BME doctors.

Complete relevant Ear, nose and throat CPD modules on Pulse Learning by registering for free, or upgrade to a premium membership for full access at only £89 a year.