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GMC to target all international doctors for ‘welcome to UK’ programme

The GMC is set to target all newly-arrived international doctors for its ‘welcome to UK’ training program, in a bid to reduce the number of complaints they will face.

GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said this comes as internationally qualified doctors are ‘much more likely to be complained about in their first years of practice in the UK’.

The induction of international doctors into the NHS is ‘generally pretty poor’ and expanding the GMC’s program is a ‘straightforward intervention’ against the high number of complaints, he added.

The free, half-day ‘Welcome to UK practice’ programme was launched by the GMC in 2014 and looks at the ethical challenges that face doctors in UK practice. As it stands, only about a third of international doctors take part.

Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum event today, Mr Massey said: ‘We know that within the NHS, we rely enormously on doctors from overseas coming to work within the NHS but we are generally pretty poor at inducting them into working within the NHS.

‘We know that a doctor who is qualified overseas is much more likely to be complained about in their first years of practice in the UK.’

According to the GMC’s latest State of Medical Education and Practice in the UK, GPs that graduated internationally are one of two ‘groups with a higher rate of being complained about’ – the other being male doctors.

Furthermore, the report said: ‘GPs who graduate outside the UK are generally more likely to receive a sanction or a warning compared with those who graduate in the UK.’

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Mr Massey said: ‘There’s a fairly simple “so what” question that arises, which is how do we provide better induction training so that those doctors can land in UK practice safely – and these aren’t questions of competence.’

Mr Massey said doctors from overseas have ‘a different set of cultural norms in terms of dealing with questions like confidentiality and consent.’

In the GMC’s business plan for 2018, it set a target for ‘80% participation for all doctors new to practice or to the country’ in the induction programme.

However, today he said: ‘We’ve set up our own “welcome to UK practice” training. The sadness is that at the moment we only get about a third of doctors moving to UK practice attending that and we set out an ambition to get as close to 100% as possible.

‘That’s a relatively straightforward intervention to be put in place.’

The expansion of the programme comes as the Home Office confirmed its plans to lift the cap on the number of international doctors granted visas to work in the UK.

Meanwhile, the GMC’s own council papers revealed last week that the number of international doctors applying to train in the NHS has increased significantly in the last year.

The GMC has faced huge criticism in recent months from the medical profession for going to the High Court in order to strike off Nigerian-born Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, who was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter.

This led to an ongoing review into why black and minority ethnic doctors are more likely to face complaints from employers than their white colleagues.