How to work in NHS without taking PLAB test

by Rahul Devi

In recent years, there has been a significant influx of Indian doctors working in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) without having to take the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test. This exemption has been made possible through collaboration between the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) and the General Medical Council (GMC), which regulates doctors in the UK.

Due to a shortage of doctors in the UK, the GMC has validated two schemes developed by BAPIO to address the workforce imbalance. The first scheme allows newly qualified MBBS candidates from India to undergo a two-year training program in select hospitals in India. During this period, they receive training and support from qualified professionals from the UK. After two years, these candidates travel to the UK to complete further training in an NHS Trust, earning UK salaries and acquiring relevant degrees from Royal Colleges UK.

The second scheme is designed for medical professionals in India who already have a post-graduate qualification and want to gain UK experience. These professionals undergo a three-month training program in India before coming to the UK to work at the registrar grade for at least two years. They are exempted from the PLAB test and obtain GMC registration upon arrival in the UK.

These schemes have proven successful, with around 80 Indian doctors already working in the UK and a further 20 undergoing training in India. The GMC has been impressed by the training rigor and exemption from the PLAB test provided by BAPIO’s schemes.

The shortage of doctors in the UK, particularly in fields such as medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine, and respiratory medicine, has been exacerbated by factors like pay rise demands and better working conditions leading medical professionals to seek opportunities abroad. After Brexit, the number of nurses coming from Europe has also decreased, further straining the existing healthcare workforce.

Given these challenges, the NHS has actively sought to employ professionals from around the world, making India a crucial source of doctors. The BAPIO schemes not only provide valuable training and experience for Indian doctors but also help address the workforce shortage in the UK.

While these schemes have been successful in facilitating the migration of medical professionals, the same cannot be said for dependent parents of these professionals. The UK government has not shown any inclination to change visa rules to allow the migration of dependent parents, despite efforts by organizations like BAPIO to petition for a change.

In conclusion, the collaboration between BAPIO and the GMC has proved beneficial for both countries, providing Indian doctors with valuable training and experience while addressing the shortage of doctors in the UK. However, challenges remain in the migration of dependent parents, with the UK government reluctant to change visa rules in this regard.

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