UK & World News
Half Of Foreign Doctors 'Not Trained Enough'
Foreign born doctors should face tougher tests before they can practise in Britain, claims a study which found over half may not be well-trained enough.
Researchers from University College London, Cambridge and Durham universities found the majority of the 80,000 foreign doctors registered in the UK, out of a total of 260,000, would fail exams set at the British standard.
The report has opened up the debate about the reliance of the Health Service on foreigners, with nearly two in every five staff born abroad, a figure that continues to grow.
Around 1,300 foreign doctors are licensed each year by the General Medical Council after passing exams which test their clinical and language skills.
The authors of the report are calling for the pass rate to be raised from 63% to 76% to "ensure patient safety".
Chris McManus, professor of psychology and medical education at UCL, said: "There is no real mechanism for checking that doctors coming from outside Britain have been trained to the same level as British doctors.
"We wanted to find out what level overseas doctors would have to reach if they were to be as competent as British graduates.
"I think it's inevitable that the bar will need to be set higher."
Figures from 2012 showed that of 669 doctors who were struck off or suspended in the previous five years, 420 had trained abroad.
However, the researchers warned acting on the report's recommendations could ultimately produce a major shortage of doctors in the NHS.
Dr Maureen Baker, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners said: "In the interests of patient safety and fairness to international medical graduates, we recommend that the current Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board standard setting process is reviewed as a matter of urgency."
A Department of Health spokesperson told Sky News: "Patient safety must be at the centre of NHS care. We are introducing new laws this year, which will allow the General Medical Council to carry out language checks on doctors.
"The GMC has set up a working party to review the exams for foreign doctors to see whether standards need to be raised."