The vast majority of doctors who were struck off or suspended in the past five years were trained abroad, figures from the General Medical Council (GMC) show.
According to a freedom of information request by The Sunday Telegraph, three-quarters of doctors struck off the medical register last year alone were trained outside the UK with India being the country with the largest number of doctors removed or suspended – followed by Nigeria and Egypt.
In total, 669 doctors have been either struck off or suspended by the GMC over the past five years and of those, 249 were British (37%) and 420 (63%) were trained abroad, despite only one-third of doctors on the register having been trained abroad.
It is therefore said that those doctors trained overseas are five times more likely to be struck off than those trained in the UK.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: “We absolutely acknowledge that when it comes to the serious end of the scale, those from overseas are more likely to appear, and we have set about a series of reforms to address this.”
New reforms include a new induction programme for all arriving doctors, which due to launch as a pilot scheme in early 2013, a review of the Performance and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test for overseas doctors and the introduction of revalidation.
Dr Umesh Prabhu, national vice-chairman of the British International Doctors Association, told the Telegraph that it was NHS Trusts, rather than patients themselves, who were “more likely” to lodge complaints against doctors who have been trained overseas.
The medical director of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS foundation trust, also said the problems partly stemmed from “cultural differences and communication problems”, more than from differences in clinical training.
A Department of Health spokesman said the introduction of revalidation would “ensure that the small number of dangerous, often overseas trained, locum doctors who do not understand the British medical system are stopped from treating patients”.