The waiting time for assessments of registration applications from some international doctors is over seven months, the Medical Council has confirmed.
International doctors seeking general registration via the route of internship equivalency are waiting 30-to-34 weeks before the Council can assess the application. Certificates of experience (COE) from the following countries are recognised as equivalent for registration through the COE route: Pakistan (internships commenced after 2008), South Africa, (internships commenced from July 2006), Sudan, Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand.
“The Medical Council recognises that turnaround times for applications have grown too high and is undertaking an in-depth analysis of all the applications routes, looking at processes and challenges,” a spokesperson told the Medical Independent.
Doctors who completed their training in an EU member state, and whose qualifications are listed in EU Directive 2005/36/EC, are entitled to automatic recognition of their qualifications. It generally takes nine-to-11 weeks to process these applications.
Doctors whose qualifications do not entitle them to automatic recognition must pass or be exempted from the pre-registration exam (PRES) if applying for general registration.
Exemptions from the PRES can be granted to applicants who have undertaken an internship that the Council recognises as equivalent (COE route) or who hold a higher qualification recognised by the Council for the purpose of granting an exemption. The turnaround time for the higher qualification route is six-to-10 weeks once all the documentation is received, according to the Council.
However, the turnaround time for the COE route is “around 30-to-34 weeks to bring them to an eligible status”.
The Council spokesperson said: “A number of factors have contributed to the lengthy turnaround times for the COE route…. Since the easing of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of applications coming through this route has increased significantly and the levels remain consistently higher than pre-pandemic. Additional resources have been recruited to progress these applications and it is expected that improvements to the turnaround times will be seen in relation to applications which are correctly presented.”
At present, there are 1,362 applications awaiting assessment and of these, no supporting documentation has been provided for over 600 applications, which means they cannot be progressed.