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Foreign graduates of UK medical schools to gain equal access to specialty training, says BMA

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g7570 (Published 09 December 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g7570
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. 1BMJ Careers

Students from countries outside Europe who have graduated from a UK medical school will have equal access to specialty training opportunities in England as their UK and European peers, the BMA has said.

After lobbying by the BMA, Health Education England has agreed to end a system that meant that students from outside the European Economic Area were considered for specialty training placements only in a second round of applications.

The BMA said that under the current system these graduates technically change employer when moving from core training to specialty training. They are therefore subject to the UK resident labour market test (RLMT), which means that they able to apply for specialty training only if there are no suitable European Union applicants.

If these trainees wanted to transfer to another employer in the course of their training—for example, if they wanted to change their specialty—they would again be subject to the RLMT and would be considered for placements only in a second round of applications, the BMA said. This has made it difficult for international graduates to train in many specialties, it said.

From August 2015 all new trainees in England will be sponsored centrally by Health Education England. This means that if graduates on a visa moved between core and higher training or wanted to change their career pathway, they could apply for training posts at the same time as other graduates of UK medical schools.

Existing trainees who were working in England on a visa would also be gradually transferred over to the single sponsor in the next 12 months, depending on their specialty, the BMA said.

Commenting on the changes, Terry John, the chair of the BMA’s international committee, said that most of the inquiries the association received from international members were about this issue. “It is great news that international graduates of UK medical schools will now have single sponsorship and will be able to progress through training in the same way as their peers from the UK and Europe, without being blocked by the immigration rules,” he said.

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