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Passport to practice for overseas doctors launched by regulator

7 October 2014

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The General Medical Council (GMC) has agreed to create a single national examination for licensed doctors wishing to practice in the UK.

The exam will ensure patients are receiving care from practitioners that have completed the competence and quality test.

Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, Niall Dickson believes this unified “passport to practice” will be “fairer and more reassuring to the public”.

He said: “This is the start of a process that, if we get it right, will create a level playing field for entry into medicine in the UK.

“Medicine is an increasingly mobile profession, and we must have systems in place which not only ensure that UK-trained graduates meet the required standards, but that all doctors practising here have been examined and evaluated to the same high level.

“There is plenty of detail to be worked out, but today we begin discussions about how to develop a single ‘passport to practise

“Our aspiration is that this exam should apply to any doctor joining the medical register, current European rules are likely to make it difficult to enforce this on those who come from the European Economic Area.

“We would certainly like to see a situation where doctors from Europe themselves would wish to demonstrate that they are meeting the required standards by sitting the exam. The fact that a doctor has passed the national exam would almost certainly be noted on his or her entry on the medical register for everyone to see.

“We believe it would be fairer and more reassuring to the public for there to be a single standard for entry to the register that everyone can rely on. Over time the exam should help to drive up standards.

‘There is much to discuss and these are very early days. But we are determined to work with our partners to find a way forward that is both workable and puts patient confidence and safety first.’ 

Doctors, patients, employers and educators will help the GMC to develop the examination.

Issue will be considered again in June 2015, at which point the GMC will decide how to take forward and implement the test.