Newly qualified doctors from outside the country are undertaking clinical practice with little or no preparation for working in the UK, research suggests.
The first State of Medical Education report published by the General Medical Council (GMC) claims more needs to be done to ensure consistency during induction periods for all doctors.
The report found it wasn't only doctors from outside the country that were not prepared for clinical practice in the UK; locum doctors were also seen to be taking on duties for which they have not been appropriately trained.
In light of the findings, the GMC plans to work with doctors' employers and professional organisations to develop a basic induction programme for all doctors.
According to the GMC, the programme would ensure doctors get an early understanding of the ethical and professional standards they will be expected to meet, and become familiar with how medicine is practised across the UK.
'While there is much to celebrate about medical practice in the UK, the challenges are also clear – we must do more to make sure that all doctors understand the standards expected of them," said Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC.
"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. This will provide greater assurance to patients that the doctor treating them is ready to start work on day one."
The Medical Defence Organisation (MDU) has welcomed the GMC's recommendation for an induction programme.
It believes a supportive environment is "essential" in helping doctors assimilate to the UK's health sector.
“Patient safety incidents are devastating for everyone involved, from the patient to the doctor who is overseeing their treatment but few are wholly due to individual error,” said MDU medico-legal adviser,” Dr Emma Cuzner.
“More often than not, there are a number of contributory factors, from the hectic environment in which doctors are working, to a breakdown in communication between colleagues.
“For this reason, the MDU strongly believes the response to incidents should emphasise the need to improve systems or protocols, rather than directing inappropriate blame at individuals. We are pleased that the GMC recognises this important point.”
Every year, around 12,000 doctors from the UK, Europe and countries around the world start working in the Uk for the first time.