New GMC assessment centre for overseas doctors

OVERSEAS doctors wanting to practice in the UK will now undergo a "rigorous half-day assessment" of practical skills at a new £2.5m GMC test centre in Manchester.

The centre opened on 6 August and the GMC expects that by the end of the month more than 1,000 doctors will have undertaken the assessment at the new facility. It is comprised of two practical skills circuits, catering for up to 18 candidates at a time, and features scenarios to test doctors to make sure they are competent and able to treat patients safely.

Jane Durkin, the GMC’s Assistant Director of Registration, said: "Doctors from overseas make an important and valuable contribution to UK health services. This new centre is part of our commitment to support them through our registration process in their quest to practise medicine in the UK.

"But it is also vital that doctors coming to work in the UK meet the high standards we require and that patients rightly expect. This is a series of robust and rigorous tests that assess doctors’ clinical skills."

Most doctors qualifying outside the European Economic Area are required to Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB). The first part (PLAB 1) is a written multiple-choice exam that can be taken at locations around the world, and the second practical clinical exam (PLAB 2) is undertaken in Manchester. Candidates must pass both before they can apply for registration and a licence to practise medicine in the UK. In 2018 the PLAB 2 pass rate was around 66 per cent.

Demand has grown steadily for both parts of PLAB. In March this year a record 4,400 overseas doctors entered PLAB 1. In response to this demand the GMC is also increasing the availability of PLAB 1 around the world.

Jane Durkin added: "Recruiting enough doctors, with the right skills, is vital for health services in all four UK countries. It is important that we provide a route for those doctors who want to work here to do so.

"Our new assessment centre, and the changes we are making to increase the availability of the tests, will help the UK get the doctors it needs and who can provide high quality care to patients."