The GMC has called for urgent action to reduce red tape preventing qualified GPs and consultants from overseas to practise in the UK.
As it stands, non-European doctors must legally provide up to 2,000 pages of evidence to the GMC before joining the NHS workforce, which can take more than nine months.
The GMC said this meant that in recent years ‘just a handful’ of GPs have been able to complete the process before coming to the UK.
Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum conference this morning, GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said the current workforce crisis in the NHS meant legislators need to take urgent steps to reduce bureaucracy.
Mr Massey said: ‘The UK continues to be a popular destination for international medical graduates. Last year, for the first time, we saw more graduates joining the workforce from overseas than coming out of UK medical schools.
‘But while we expect up to 10,000 overseas doctors to join the register this year, last year only 10 GPs or consultants from outside the EEA joined via the relevant specialist registration route and were able to practise at a senior level immediately.’
According to Mr Massey, the problem could be alleviated if the GMC is given more discretion in the accreditation process.
He told delegates: ‘We need more flexibility. That doesn’t mean a reduction in standards, simply a change to legislation to give us more discretion for determining how senior international doctors can demonstrate their knowledge and skills.
‘That could increase the rate at which senior doctors join the workforce – meaning more practitioners to support patients in need.’
It comes as last month, the GMC chief stressed that EU GPs must not be deterred from coming to work in the UK due to Brexit.