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Occupational English test - more choice and variation for non-UK doctors wishing to register with the GMC

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Non-UK doctors wishing to register with the General Medical Council (GMC) can now undertake the Occupational English Test (OET) as proof of their English language skills. The motive behind this is to increase flexibility for doctors who are eager to work in the UK whilst still maintaining the high standards that are required.

At present, most overseas doctors demonstrate their English language abilities by taking the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The IELTS is highly popular with approximately over three million tests taken in the last year. However, the GMC are now accepting the OET as alternative proof of a doctor’s English language competency.

The CEO of OET, Sujata Stead states that they are delighted that the GMC is giving wider choice to overseas doctors seeking to register and work in the UK.” Emphasis is also placed on the fact that it is a “health-care specific” test, as the test is specifically designed for healthcare professionals and includes situations similar to those that are likely to arise in the workplace.

Chief Executive of the GMC, Charlie Massey claims that “doctors from overseas make a huge contribution to frontline healthcare in this country and it is more important than ever to make sure that the path for highly-skilled doctors to work in the UK is as straightforward as possible.” He also points out that the test will not reduce the English skills that are required of doctors and the high standards that patients expect will thus continue.

In order to meet the GMC’s requirements, doctors taking the OET need to achieve grade B in each of the four domains tested. Much like the IELTS, these four domains consist of reading, writing, listening and speaking skills with an emphasis on communication in a healthcare environment. The test is one which is already acknowledged by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and it can be taken in more than 100 locations in 40 countries.

If you need advice regarding your prospects of successfully obtaining registration or you need assistance with the application process, we have a dedicated team who will be able to assist you. For more information, please call our regulatory team on 01616 966 229.

By Emily Hill, graduate paralegal in the regulatory department.