While recruiters welcome the General Medical Council’s move to add additional linguistic test dates, more needs to be done to boost overseas doctor numbers to the UK.
In a statement released this week, the GMC said its own figures showed hundreds more overseas doctors are applying to work in the UK each year, with demand for the multiple choice and practical Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) exams now meaning it is adding additional test dates at weekends.
But healthcare recruiters claim more needs to be done to tackle current skills shortages in the sector.
David Green, co-founder of Remedium Partners, said: “It’s no secret that hospitals are facing acute skills shortages and, as a result, are increasingly relying on the expertise of overseas doctors. And with the GMC predicting that over 5,000 doctors will sit the PLAB exams this year alone, up from 3,000 in 2017, it is encouraging to see that active steps to break down the barriers that prevent them from working in the UK are being taken.
“While we wholeheartedly support this move, it can’t be forgotten that there are other bureaucratic barriers that overseas doctors face – namely securing visas that either delay or, in some cases, stop them practising in the UK that also need consideration.
“Consequently, we would like to see the government address this, for example, by relaxing and reforming the current visa system to ensure that it is as easy as possible for talented health professionals to access the system.”
Meanwhile Olivia Spruce, chief operating officer at Positive Healthcare, told Recruiter she wholeheartedly welcomed any move that would encourage more doctors to work in the UK.
“By adding extra dates to the PLAB test, this is a step in the right direction towards accommodating new talent. I would, however, also maintain that there is a long way to go in terms of getting to grips with this crisis. I still believe that we are becoming increasingly reliant upon attracting overseas talent as a panacea for our domestic shortage, which we still need to confront.”