Workshops to help overseas doctors adapt to NHS go online as GMC reacts to pandemic

Free GMC workshops to help overseas doctors adjust to working in the UK are being re-launched online next week as the regulator adapts to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Half-day workshops to help internationally-qualified doctors adjust to the NHS - providing insight and understanding UK medical careers - were launched last year by the regulator.

The Welcome to UK practice (WtUKP) initiative aims to help bring down high rates of fitness to practise referrals among black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and overseas-trained doctors.

BAME doctors are more than twice as likely to be referred by an employer to fitness to practise procedures as white colleagues, and more likely to be investigated and then warned or sanctioned.

Online workshops

However, with current travel and social distancing restrictions preventing face-to-face workshops, the regulator has created an interactive online version, which will be delivered remotely and can be joined by doctors anywhere in the world.

Sessions will provide practical guidance on ethical scenarios doctors might encounter, advice on interacting and communicating with patients and other healthcare professionals; and explore how health services in the UK differ from other countries.

The online classes will follow the format of the original workshops, with a trained GMC liaison adviser hosting. Participants can also watch videos of scenarios and take part in discussions with other doctors.

Research commissioned by the GMC shows that two thirds of doctors who attended its half-day workshops made changes to the way they work as a result - and the watchdog is now expanding access to the scheme.

Internationally-qualified doctors

GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said: ‘We know how valuable Welcome to UK practice is for many doctors, and so we have worked hard to make sure we can continue to provide these workshops despite the restrictions caused by the pandemic.

‘Internationally-qualified doctors are hugely important to our healthcare systems. Coming to work in the UK can be challenging at the best of times, but we know that doctors who are well prepared and who have good inductions are more likely to enjoy successful careers.

‘We hope that doctors and their employers will take advantage of the convenience these online workshops provide and make the most of the opportunity to get an insight into practising medicine in the UK.’

GMC research has suggested that a lack of support for BAME doctors is often a key factor behind disproportionately high rates of fitness to practise referral. The watchdog has previously called for better support for doctors new to the UK or to the NHS.

The BMA recently warned that BAME medical students are being undermined by racism, affecting their learning and confidence.

Online WtUKP workshops are available from Wednesday 22 July for eligible doctors to book through GMC Online.

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