27 Feb 2014

Doctors from EU will need to take IELTS test

IELTS training for EU Doctors












Doctors from the EU face language tests before being allowed to practise in the UK.

New language checks for overseas doctors will come into force this summer, requiring doctors from the EU to achieve a score of 7.5 out of 9 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test

Currently, the General Medical Council (GMC) can only test the language skills of doctors from outside the EU. There are more than 27,000 doctors from the European Economic Area  in the UK, none of whom been formally tested for their English skills.

Proof of English language ability

From June, Doctors from EU countries will be required to provide evidence of their English skills or undergo a language assessment before they are able to treat patients in the UK, if there are concerns about his or her ability to communicate effectively.

The GMC also announced that all overseas doctors who take a test to demonstrate their English language skills will need to achieve a higher score than they do now. Doctors from overseas wanting to practise in the UK will need to achieve an overall score of 7.5 out of nine in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test – up from the current score of 7.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: “Doctors who want to practise in the UK must be able to communicate effectively in English to ensure the safety of their patients".

How IELTS tests work

IELTS tests are already used by a large number governments and education institutes in English speaking countries as proof of language ability and for immigration purposes. In the UK, skilled workers can use IELTS results for the new points-based immigration system.

The IELTS test assesses candidate’s abilities through four Modules - Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking – to obtain a band score.

There are nine bands are described as follows:


Expert User

Has full operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.


Very Good User

Has full operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.


Good User

Has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriateness and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.


Competent User

Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.


Modest user

Has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.


Limited User

Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in using complex language.


Extremely Limited User

Conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations.


Intermittent User

No real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs.


Non User

Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.


Did not attempt the test

No assessable information provided at all.

IELTS at International House London

IH London is one of the UK's largest IELTS test centres. Tests take place 3 Saturdays every month and on occasional Thursdays throughout the year.

We also help candidates achieve the IELTS score they require through our IELTS preparation courses.

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