Dear General Medical Council,

I'm puzzled. Your Chief executive recently announced that one of the advantages of Brexit is that you'd soon be able to get your hands on all those shifty EU doctors and impose tests on them before deciding whether to offer them registration. He went on to explain that EU law has always meant that you were unable to carry out assessments on doctors from the EU. He claimed that, because of this, EU doctors are currently over represented in your fitness to practice procedures.

Would these tests that you plan to impose on EU doctors be the same ones that you do currently impose on doctors from outside the EU? I believe that that group are even more over represented in your fitness to practice procedures? That being so, the evidence would seem to suggest that your tests don't work. Under FOI please provide me with figures for 2014 and 2015 of doctors whom have been in your fitness to practise procedures, broken down by EU qualified, UK qualified, and those who qualified elsewhere. Please also provide the total number of doctors registered from each of these areas.

At the recent Conservative Party Conference, Jeremy Hunt announced that the government planned to train more UK doctors and that once these extra doctors were qualified, it would be time to kick out all the johnny foreigners. Please provide me with copies of any communications that the GMC has had with Mr Hunt, or any government official, about this topic i.e. the number of doctors working in the UK who qualified elsewhere, the number that would need to be trained in order to replace all the foreign doctors etc. I would like to see any e-mails, telephone notes, notes of meetings, or any other correspondence about this please.

Yours faithfully,

Michael West

FOI, General Medical Council

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FOI, General Medical Council

Dear Mr West

 

Your information request – F16/8494/SW

 

Thank you for your email dated 15 October.

 

How we will consider your request

 

We’re going to look at your request under the Freedom of Information Act
2000 (FOIA). The FOIA gives us 20 working days to respond but we’ll come
back to you as soon as we can. 

 

Who to contact

 

Simon Willis will be handling your request. If you have any questions you
can call him on 0161 923 6310 or email him at [1][email address].

 

Yours sincerely

Miss Sadie Jones

Information Assistant

[2][email address]

0161 250 6889

 

General Medical Council

3 Hardman Street

Manchester

M3 3AW

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Simon Willis (0161 923 6310), General Medical Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr West,

 

Your information access request

 

Thank you for your email of 15 October 2016 asking for :-

 

·         Fitness to practise figures for 2014 and 2015 broken down by the
following places of qualification (1) UK, (2) EEA, and (3) all other
international regions; and

·         Copies of communications between the GMC and Jeremy Hunt, the
Secretary of State for Health, and/or any other government official(s)
regarding the number of overseas qualified doctors working in the UK and
how many would need to be trained in the UK to replace them all.

 

I’ve considered your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(FOIA). I’m sorry for the delay in providing this response and any
inconvenience caused.

 

We note that some of your remarks in your email do not reflect comments
made by Niall Dickson, our former Chief Executive who stepped down
recently, and we wish to address this.

 

As an independent regulator, it is not for the GMC to take a position on
the UK’s relationship with the European Union. What is clear is that the
UK has benefited considerably from the contribution of EEA doctors to our
health services over the years, health professionals from other parts of
the EEA are very welcome and valued in the UK and that that has not
changed because of the vote to leave the EU. While we cannot predict what
Brexit will mean, we don’t see it impacting on the registration status of
those already registered here.

 

We have always argued that we should have the right to test the competence
of European doctors, like we do for international doctors, with rigorous
assessments of their knowledge and clinical skills. European law restricts
us from doing that and we have made it clear that we believe this is a
weakness in the system. At present we must rely on the robustness of the
medical education and regulation system in the doctor’s home country for
that assurance. This has been our position for several years and our many
public statements have always recognised the significant contribution that
EEA doctors make whilst at the same time calling for our regulatory powers
to be as strong as they can be to ensure patients are protected.

 

The introduction of English language checks for doctors from Europe in
June 2014 was a huge step forward for patient safety. Combined with recent
increases in the IELTS (International English Language Testing System)
score for international medical graduates, this means that our language
requirements are among the toughest in the world and we keep them under
regular review to make sure they continue to be effective.

 

Given the growing demand for doctors, the promise of an increase in
medical student numbers in England is to be welcomed. With more students
and more medical schools, it will be important that the quality of medical
education remains first class, and we will certainly make it clear that
our standards must be maintained so that British medical education can
continue to lead the world.

 

The fitness to practice statistics which you have enquired about is
published in a reference table to the most recent edition of the State of
Medical Education and Practice in the UK report (SOMEP report) which is
available from the following link
[1]http://www.gmc-uk.org/GMC_SOMEP_2016_Ref...
- please refer to Table 24. The entire SOMEP report is available from
[2]http://www.gmc-uk.org/publications/somep....

 

With regards to the copies of communication you have requested, we have
notes from a meeting held on 1 September 2016 between the GMC (represented
by Terence Stephenson (Chair of the Council), Mr Dickson, and Stephen
Jones (Assistant Director of Office of Chair and Chief Executive) and
members of Department of Health, including Mr Hunt. Extract from the notes
relating to your query is as follows :-

 

“[Mr Hunt]* set out his aim for England becoming self-sufficient in the
numbers of doctors it trains by 2025. In England, this would mean training
approximately an additional 1,500 medical students a year (from c.6,500 to
8,000 places). This would mean England may not take as many doctors from
developing countries.”

 

*original document used abbreviation ‘JH’.

 

Who to contact

 

I hope you find this information useful. If you have any queries about
this, or need anything further, please contact me on the details below.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Simon Willis

Information Access Officer

Resources & Quality Assurance Directorate

Direct Dial: 0161 923 6310

Email: [3][email address]

 

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