Refugee doctors will no longer have to find the money to sit the first part of the test they are required to pass to demonstrate their linguistic competence.
The General Medical Council has waived the £145 fee for refugee doctors to sit part one of the Professional Linguistics Assessment Board test. The test aims to ensure overseas doctors have the competence and communication skills to work as senior house officers.
Dr Edwin Borman, chairman of the BMA's International Committee, said, "We appreciate this initiative and hope it will be extended to the second part of the more expensive PLAB exam.
"Currently it takes about 12 to 15 months for the Home Office to process asylum applications and we're concerned that doctors classified as asylum-seekers may not be able to recommence their studies sufficiently if they are exempted from this offer. We hope the GMC will extend the initiative to asylum- seekers."
Lew Swift, head of personnel and corporate services at the Walton Centre for Neuroscience, said, "Anything that helps us to recruit doctors in the shortage specialities has got to be a good thing. However, there's a danger that there will be complaints from those who have to pay."