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GMC reviews test for overseas doctors


2 February 2012

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The General Medical Council (GMC) is reviewing its testing process for overseas doctors from outside Europe who wish to practice in the UK.


The General Medical Council (GMC) is reviewing its testing process for overseas doctors from outside Europe who wish to practice in the UK.

An independent expert group, led by Ian Cumming OBE, National Director for Quality at the Department of Health, will carry out the review of the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test to ensure it continues to represent best practice.

The group is expected to include representatives for patients, employers, medical educators, and overseas doctors.

The PLAB test is the main route through which doctors who qualified outside the UK or EEA demonstrate their clinical skills before they join the UK medical register.

The two-part test is set at the level of skill and knowledge expected of a UK graduate after their first year of training – the end of Foundation Year 1.

In 2011, over 4,000 doctors sat PLAB 1 (exam paper), with 35% passing.

During the same period, over 2,500 overseas doctors sat PLAB 2 (clinical examinaton), with 70% passing and becoming eligible to apply for UK medical registration.

The PLAB test, which was first introduced in 1979, was last reviewed in 2003.

“The current review reflects the fact that medical education and practice are constantly changing as are the techniques used for testing knowledge, skills and competencies,” said Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the GMC. 

The independent expert group has issued a call for written evidence on the PLAB test and its final report is due in early 2013.

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