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The editorial ‘Too little quality; too many doctors’ (June 2006 JRSM1) is incorrect to suggest that the General Medical Council (GMC) had a ‘sudden demand for overseas graduates to have a work permit’. The GMC does not have any visa requirements for international medical graduates (IMGs). The Home Office is responsible for setting visa requirements. International medical graduates are responsible for ensuring that they have the appropriate visa when they enter the UK.
Arun Natarajan and Balasubramanian Ravikumar in their editorial (June 2006 JRSM2) appear to argue that the PLAB test be used as a means to control the movement of international medical graduates. The PLAB test enables IMGs to demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skills required for registration with the GMC. It is not, and cannot be used as, a tool for controlling the number of doctors entering the UK or for determining who should get jobs. To withdraw or ration the PLAB test would deny IMGs the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills and to compete for jobs. Apart from anything else, this would be unfairly discriminatory and unlawful.
We have consistently argued that IMGs need much better information about potential job and career prospects, in order that they can make properly informed decisions before coming to the UK. We have provided feedback from our surveys of the employment experience of those who have passed the PLAB test; and IMGs who wish to take the test must confirm that they have read our warning statements. There has been a very sharp reduction in applications to sit the test and, as a result, we are reducing the number of test sessions both within the UK and overseas.
We will continue to work with others to ensure that doctors are able to make well informed decisions. My colleagues and I have very considerable sympathy for the plight of doctors already in the UK and we stand ready to contribute, with others, to trying to find a solution to their problems.
Competing interests None declared.