Non-UK doctors more likely to have professional difficulties

DOCTORS who qualify outside the UK are more likely to face professional difficulties than UK medical graduates.

They are more likely to be referred to the National Clinical Assessment Service (NCAS) or be excluded or suspended from work, according to new NCAS figures. The service is calling for improved induction and support systems for international medical graduates to minimise concerns about professional practice.

Professor Alastair Scotland, Director of NCAS, said: “We are not generalising. Most doctors from outside the UK do excellent work for the NHS and the service depends a great deal on them and the skills they bring. But these statistics show clearly that there is a greater likelihood of concerns being raised in some groups than others”.

Rates of concern are higher amongst doctors who qualified elsewhere in the European Economic Area as well as outside Europe, with the highest rates seen amongst non-white doctors. But NCAS attributes these differences to place of qualification and training factors at undergraduate level rather than to ethnicity. Levels of concern amongst doctors qualifying in the UK do not differ between white and non-white groups.

Gender and age were also found to be closely related to concerns over professional practice. Around 5,600 NCAS referrals were analysed, including 900 in the most recent year 2009-2010. The new figures show patterns similar to those reported in previous years.

NCAS found consistently higher levels of concern amongst older doctors but fewer concerns amongst women at all ages. The reasons for this are unclear and Professor Scotland has called for more research in this area.

He added: “We believe this consistent picture should help colleagues within health services focus their work on induction and staff development to greatest effect.”

The NCAS report, Concerns about professional practice and associations with age, gender, place of qualification and ethnicity – 2009/10, can be found here

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