Support for Foreign Doctors

The chief executive of the General Medical Council (GMC) has said that more needs to be done to support foreign doctors coming to the UK and to help them adjust to different social and cultural attitudes, the BBC reports.

Mr Niall Dickson said, “They need to be supported and helped, and I don’t think that the NHS or indeed we as a country have done enough to support them when they are coming into this country”.

He went on to praise foreign doctors who provide a “fantastic service” for the UK’s national health system.

His comments follow the results of a study conducted by University College London, which concluded that pass marks for entry exams sat by international doctors should be set ‘considerably higher’ as a ‘performance gap’ between international and UK-based medical graduates was found.

The research, commissioned by the GMC, suggested that the pass mark be raised from 63% to 76% after it found that 1,300 foreign doctors passed competency exams each year, but their performance following this showed that half of them should not have qualified.

“Overseas doctors have contributed tremendously to the National Health Service,” said Umesh Prabhu, national vice-chairman of the British International Doctors Association (BIDA) “The NHS wouldn’t survive without their contribution, but it’s important that we protect patients”.

Dr Chandra Kanneganti of BIDA said that the higher referral figures of foreign doctors to the GMC could also be a result of issues such as communication differences and racism.

The UK is home to over 95,000 foreign-trained doctors, amounting to a quarter of the total number of doctors.

Mr Dickson explained that foreign doctors need guidance; he said, “Doctors are a bit like flowers. We can’t just take them up from one garden and plonk them down in another and expect them to thrive.”

Oxford Medical currently works to support overseas and UK doctors, on a non-clinical and personal level, and in their career development. “In order to help overseas doctors develop in the UK, communication training, and essentials in leadership and management are the most appropriate skills to develop” said Stephen McGuire, Training Manager at Oxford Medical.