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GMC to develop induction programme for all new doctors working in the UK

Authors: Helen Jaques 

Publication date:  17 Sep 2011


The General Medical Council has announced plans to introduce a national basic induction programme to ensure consistency in the standards of professionalism and cultural awareness among all new UK and overseas doctors starting work in the United Kingdom.

The induction programme, which will be developed in conjunction with employers and professional organisations and introduced from next year, will ensure that doctors have an adequate understanding of the ethical and professional standards set out by the GMC and are familiar with how medicine is practised in the UK.

Every year around 12 000 doctors from the UK, Europe, and beyond start practising in the UK for the first time. Although NHS organisations are required to provide induction on local procedures and structures, the quality is inconsistent across the country, says the GMC in its report State of Medical Education and Practice in the UK.

In addition, the depth in which professionalism is taught in medical schools varies, and there are too many examples of overseas doctors starting clinical practice with little or no preparation for working in the UK.

The induction isn’t about doctors’ clinical skills but rather about their cultural awareness and knowledge of what the NHS is and how it operates, said Niall Dickson, the GMC’s chief executive. “Developing an induction programme for all doctors new to our register will give them the support they need to practise safely and to conform to UK standards,” he said. “This will provide greater assurance to patients that the doctor treating them is ready to start work on day one.”

Although it will be a requirement for all new doctors before they can practise, the induction will be targeted at ensuring standards among those who qualified overseas and are coming to work in the UK for the first time. More than a third (37%) of the doctors in the UK qualified abroad: 10% in the European Economic Area and 27% further afield.

“We recognise that doctors coming from overseas do face particular challenges around various cultural issues and the fact that they’re moving into a completely new healthcare system,” said Mr Dickson. “We think that a basic induction programme at the beginning that reminds or points out to them the principles and standards that we expect them to adhere to they will find useful and will hopefully tie in with what employers provide.”

The induction programme will also assure consistency in the professionalism of locum doctors and medical students, two further groups that show varying standards, said Mr Dickson. Similarly, a national approach to induction will ensure consistency in the level of support offered by employers and locum agencies. However, employers and locum agencies are still required to ensure that any doctor who works for them undergoes proper induction in local procedures and what the organisation expects of its employees, he emphasised.

Helen Jaques news reporter BMJ Careers

 hjaques@bmj.com

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