Raise pass marks for overseas graduates

DOCTORS who qualified abroad should face tougher tests to work in the UK, according to a new study.

Pass marks should be increased for the two examinations set by the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB1 and PLAB2) of the General Medical Council. The move aims to bring international medical graduates (IMGs) in line with UK graduates in terms of medical knowledge and clinical skills.

The pass mark for PLAB1 should be raised by around 27 marks (13 per cent) and for PLAB2 by 15-16 marks (20 per cent) above the present standard.

The findings emerged in GMC-commissioned research published in the BMJ that compared standards between IMGs – those trained outside the EU – and UK graduates who had completed their first year of foundation training.

Between 2008 and 2012 an annual average of 1,281 IMGs passed PLAB, while in the same period an annual average of 6,720 UK graduates fully registered with the GMC.

Researchers found PLAB graduates had “significantly lower” scores in the membership exams for the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of GPs.

A PLAB pass is required before IMGs are allowed to work in the UK, but the researchers found the standard of the test had been “set too low” compared to the standard of UK graduates.

The report went on to concede that raising the pass mark would reduce the pass rate with “implications for medical workforce planning.”

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