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GPrevalidationMarch 21 2016

Overseas doctors will face more stringent testing by the General Medical Council before being allowed to apply to register, the GMC has announced.

The GMC is revising its Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test following recommendations made from an independent review. The new process will require doctors to undergo a broader knowledge test and a more thorough practical assessment, to “reflect real life consultations in the UK health system,” the GMC said.

The new assessment will be introduced from September 2016. Changes being introduced include a fully revised practical assessment and “new practical scenarios and questions that will assess candidates’ professionalism and understanding of ethics as well as their clinical skills.”

International medical graduates undertaking the new format test, currently given the working title ‘medical licensing assessment’ or ‘MLA’, will be limited to the number of times they can sit the new test. In addition, there will be a two year limit for them to apply for a licence to practise in the UK after passing the test.

Last year, 69% of candidates who took the knowledge test, known as Part 1, passed and 68% passed Part 2 of the test, the practical assessment, said the GMC.

Niall Dickson, GMC Chief Executive, said: “The contribution made by doctors who come here from outside Europe is invaluable to healthcare throughout the UK and these changes will provide additional assurance to patients that they have passed a stringent assessment and have demonstrated high standards of care and knowledge.

“Of course the GMC’s assessments are just part of the process and employers also have a vital role to play in carrying out pre-employment checks on all doctors they take on. This includes taking responsibility for making sure all doctors, including those from within Europe, have the relevant qualifications, skills and experience required for the role.”

Mr Dickson also welcomed the Royal College of General Practitioners’ updated revalidation guidance, which he said “simplifies and clarifies the information which GPs should bring to their appraisals.

“The impact of revalidation on doctors is something that we are considering very carefully. We have plenty of evidence that for many doctors it is a positive and useful experience which has helped them to reflect on their practice. But we always said this was just the start and that we would learn from the experience of the first few years – that is why we have just commissioned a review of revalidation, led by Sir Keith Pearson, which will recommend how the process can be improved. The RCGP’s survey will be an important piece of evidence to be considered by this review.

“In the meantime we are working with our partners throughout the UK, including NHS England and the Care Quality Commission, to join up our requirements so that GPs are not asked for anything twice and that all their time, whether devoted to reflection or direct patient care, is as productive as possible.”

Links:

GMC overseas doctor assessment announcement

GMC statement on RCGP revalidation guidance

Today’s GP coverage on RCGP revalidation guidance

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