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BMJ. 2007 November 24; 335(7629): 1062.
PMCID: PMC2094138
GMC and the MMC collapse

Role of the PLAB test

Martin Hart, assistant director of education

The summary of responses published under the banner “GMC and the MMC collapse” contains several inaccurate statements about the role of the General Medical Council and that of the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test.1

As the medical regulator, the GMC sets the standards of practice in the UK. It has no role in workforce planning, including recruitment and retention of doctors to work in the National Health Service. The GMC has never conducted a recruitment drive for medical staff either within the UK or overseas.

The PLAB test is one way that international medical graduates (IMGs) can show their medical skills and knowledge in order to join the UK medical register. It is not a tool for controlling the number of doctors entering the UK or for determining who should get jobs. If, after considering the relevant information, IMGs wish to take the PLAB test, we do not think they should be compelled to come to the UK to sit part 1 of the test. To withdraw or ration the PLAB test would deny IMGs the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills and to compete for jobs. That would be unfair.

For the past 10 years we have been warning prospective candidates for the PLAB test to check the job situation before applying for the test. The GMC website clearly states that the job situation has been increasingly difficult for IMGs for several years.

Finally, the GMC makes no profit from the PLAB test. The fees only pay for the costs of running the test.


Competing interests: None declared.


1. Davies S. Summary of responses. BMJ 2007;335:842 (27 October.) doi: 10.1136/bmj.39374.024664.BE [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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