The General Medical Council (GMC) was established under the Medical Act of 1858. It is a registered charity (No. 1089278) whose purpose is the protection, promotion and maintenance of the health and safety of the community. The GMC has strong and effective legal powers designed to maintain the standards the public have a right to expect of doctors.
The governing body, the Council, has 35 members:
- 19 doctors elected by the doctors on the register
- 14 members of the public appointed by the Privy Council
- Two academics appointed by educational bodies – the universities and medical royal colleges
There are various categories of registration. The main ones are:
- Provisional registration – for doctors from the UK and EU in their first year of supervised postgraduate training
- Limited registration – for doctors from outside the EU who come to the UK for supervised postgraduate training
- Full registration – for doctors who have completed a period of supervised training
The PLAB test
To obtain limited registration, overseas qualified doctors must provide objective evidence of their capability to practice in the UK. Most do so by passing a professional and linguistic assessment called the PLAB test. Doctors who obtain a place on a GMC approved training scheme, or can provide evidence of achievement in specialist training, are exempt from the test.
English language testing (IELTS)
In addition, all doctors applying for limited registration must have obtained a satisfactory score in the academic modules of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). A minimum score of 7.0 is normally required in each individual section of the IELTS test. Doctors who have passed the PLAB test (which provides objective assessment of communication in a clinical context) require an overall band score of 7.0 with a minimum of 7.0 in the speaking component and 6.0 in the others.
This requirement applies to doctors who are eligible to apply for provisional or full registration by qualifying at certain recognised medical schools outside the EEA.
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