ALL doctors wanting to join the medical register and practice in the UK may be required to pass a standardised Medical Licensing Assessment (MLA), under new proposals by the GMC.
The regulator has begun to consult on what it calls a "single route to the medical register for all doctors who wish to practise in the UK".
Currently there is significant variation in arrangements for medical students across the country and those wishing to join the register from outside the UK. Each of the UK’s 32 medical schools has its own system and although they share some written questions there is no UK-wide process to set a common standard to pass.
International medical graduates (IMGs) also have a number of means of entry, including the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test, but doctors from the EU can secure a UK licence to practise without any test of their competence.
In a recent poll carried out the GMC two-thirds of patients said they would have greater confidence in the checks carried out on doctors if there was a single assessment taken to enter the profession.
Professor Terence Stephenson, Chair of the GMC, said: "Medical training in the UK is among the best in the world – our graduates do well here and when they work overseas. However, current arrangements do not allow us to assess whether UK graduates and overseas graduates have attained the same threshold of competence when they are seeking the same licence to practise in the UK.
"We also know that there is evidence of disparity between medical schools in how prepared UK graduates are for practice. With a planned increase in medical students in the pipeline and new schools appearing, particularly in England, this is surely the moment to look at how we can improve assurance for patients that the standards at entry are consistent."
The GMC hopes to incorporate the new assessment into existing testing by medical schools. A consultation on the matter is open from 31 January to 30 April 2017.