The findings raise fears that trainee medics, mainly from India, Pakistan and Nigeria, are not suitably qualified to treat patients despite spending three years working for the National Health Service (NHS) before taking the exam. Until they pass the exams, which qualify them to practise independently as hospital physicians or GPs, trainees continue to see patients “under supervision” in placements at hospitals and general practitioner (GP) surgeries.
While just 9% of British doctors fail to pass the knowledge and practical exams, more than 63% of foreign doctors do not reach the standard to pass. Foreign medical associations are demanding that doctors are given two more opportunities to pass the tests amid claims that examiners may be discriminating against non-UK graduates, the report said.
However, their claims have been refuted by leading UK specialists who say a study showed “no substantial effects of gender or ethnicity on examiner/candidate interactions”, and that passing the exams is dependent on having the appropriate skills.
“This is scandalous. If a doctor can go on failing they shouldn’t be treating patients in the NHS,” Joyce Robins, co-director of campaign group Patient Concern, said.