Foreign doctors working in the NHS are less competent than their British counterparts, a major report has warned.
The majority of the 88,000 foreign doctors practising the UK would fail exams if they were held to the same standards as their British colleagues.
A study by the University College London called for the pass rate for competency exams to be lifted “to ensure patient safety”.
Foreign doctors, including 22,758 from outside the EU, make up around a third of the doctors currently practising in the UK.
They must pass a Professional and Linguistics Assessment to practice in the UK, but the research found “no formal mechanism” to ensure it was as tough as the exams sat by British doctors.
A comparison of results showed they were consistently performing less well than their British counterparts, with around half unlikely to be able to pass the British test.
“It may be that some overseas doctors have had poor training and when they come to Britain they will catch up quickly,” Chris McManus, professor of psychology and medical training at UCL, told the Daily Telegraph.
“But alternatively some may feel completely overwhelmed, particularly with new technology they have not yet come across. And that is of concern.”