UK doctors encouraged to gain overseas experience
Yet they make up only 36% of doctors on the medical register. The GMC said new reforms included an induction programme, better checks and a review of the present testing system. 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.” A new induction programme for all arriving doctors is due to launch as a pilot scheme in early 2013. It will combine online training in British medical practices with a one-day course covering some of the key issues facing new arrivals. Continue reading the main story Start Quote The UK is still short of doctors and so we must ensure that those who come from overseas are given adequate support End Quote Dr Vivienne Nathanson BMA There will also be a review of the Performance and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test for overseas doctors. This is the system whereby doctors have to demonstrate their clinical skills and competence before they can join the medical register in the UK. The GMC said there is also a new system of checks – known as revalidation – that began this month. This requires all doctors in the UK to show they are keeping up to date and are fit to practise, based on an annual appraisal and feedback from patients, doctors, nurses and other colleagues. The UK is the first country in the world to introduce such a system across its whole healthcare system, the GMC said in a statement. The figures for disciplinary action were initially obtained in a Freedom of Information request to the GMC by the Sunday Telegraph . They show that in the last five years, there have been 669 doctors either struck off or suspended, and 420 of them were trained abroad.
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The BMA has published updated guidance called Broadening your Horizons which says that it is more important than ever before for doctors and trainees to gain international experience. UK doctors who work within overseas health systems for a time can gain highly useful experience that will benefit the NHS, other clinicians and developing countries, argues the BMA. The guidance is designed to support UK doctors at all stages of their careers who are considering working or training in developing countries and rejects concerns that time working abroad can damage a doctors career prospects. It also helps employers and medical educators in the NHS to assist those who choose to undertake work abroad. The guidance says gaining experience overseas can be mutually beneficial by: supporting health improvements in developing countries providing opportunities to share skills, knowledge and experience equipping doctors to adapt to a changing NHS and deal with a diverse range of diseases in the UK helping trainees to identify career paths for the rest of their professional lives. As well as giving a detailed account of the application process, the guidance also includes personal accounts from doctors working internationally an advice on expenses and employment entitlements whilst on placement; how to find a placement; how to secure time out from training or employment; and revalidation requirements. Dr Mark Porter, chair of BMA Council, said: The opportunity to work in developing countries has long been valued by doctors at all stages of their careers, and with an increasingly diverse patient population in the UK those experiences are more important than ever. We know that working in developing countries can benefit a doctors career as well as the NHS, but many doctors believe time out will have a negative impact on their professional development, and often trainees think overseas working isnt an option for them. This guidance has been produced to show that opportunities to work internationally exist, support those wanting to work overseas, and to address concerns raised by our members. Working in a developing country should be seen as positive career move, not a negative one and we hope that our guidance will help doctors, trainers and employers to facilitate opportunities for UK doctors to work or volunteer in developing countries.