GMC to routinely accept new language competency test

The General Medical Council (GMC) will now routinely accept the Occupational English Test (OET) as proof of English language skills for overseas doctors who apply to work in the UK.

As of 6 February, the medical regulator will start accepting the OET as an alternative to the International English Language Test System (IELTS) as proof of a doctor’s language competency.

The OET assesses reading, writing, listening and speaking skills with an emphasis on communication in a healthcare environment. All healthcare professionals who take the OET take the same listening and reading tests but the speaking and writing tests are specific to workplace situations a doctor would encounter.

Charlie Massey, chief executive of the GMC, said: “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. But it is also vital that those doctors coming to work here have a good standard of English. We have reviewed the OET thoroughly and are confident that, as well as giving more flexibility for doctors keen to work in the UK, it will continue to ensure that only those with a high level of English will reach the required standard. We are giving overseas doctors an alternative way of demonstrating their English skills, but without reducing the high standards we require and that patients would expect.”

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