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How to evidence your English language skills to the GMC

Apr 24, 2020.

To practice medicine safely in the UK, doctors must have sufficient knowledge of the English language. This blog post will explain how international doctors can demonstrate their English language skills when applying for a licence to practice in the UK.

The General Medical Council requires doctors to evidence their English language skills to ensure they can:

  • Communicate effectively with patients and those close to the patient
  • Work collaboratively with other colleagues
  • Clearly and accurately record their work
Types of evidence the GMC will accept:

The GMC accepts a range of evidence but retains discretion as to the evidence they accept as credible. They frequently review their English language requirements on a regular basis to ensure they remain suitable and they give full consideration to new sources of evidence. Below, we share the four types of evidence that will satisfy their requirements; confirming that an international doctor has the necessary knowledge of English to safely practice in the UK:

Evidence 1: English Language Testing

There are two types of English language tests accepted by the GMC:
A) International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – you must receive a minimum of 7 in each category (speaking, reading, writing and listening) and an average of 7.5
B) Occupational English Test (OET) – you must receive a grade B or above in each category (speaking, reading, writing and listening)
Please note, the scores must be achieved in one sitting of the test and they are only valid for two years after receiving your mark.

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Evidence 2: Primary Medical Qualification taught and examined in English

The criteria for this evidence requires the primary medical qualification to be taught and examined in English. This is so the General Medical Council have sufficient assurance that the doctor has adequate experience in an English-speaking medical environment.
Communication and interaction are the essential components of safe medical practice in the UK. Your qualification must have required you to conduct the majority of your clinical interaction in English.

Evidence 3: You have practised medicine in an English-speaking country

If you’ve been working in a county for the last two years where English is the first and native language, you can use this as evidence of you English language skills.
You may also have to provide additional evidence that you have been assessing, diagnosing, treating, reporting or giving advice within a medical capacity whether that be paid or volunteered.
If you do have to provide this additional evidence, you’ll be asked to provide original references.

Evidence 4: A UK employment offer

A written letter of employment from a UK healthcare organisation – with confirmation that the healthcare organisation is a designated body – can be sufficient evidence when providing a UK employment offer.
You’ll also need to attach a structured English language reference form that has been completed by an appointed NHS clinician, detailing your English language skills in all language elements of reading, writing, listening and speaking and how these were assessed during the recruitment process.

ID Medical School

Our ID Medical School offers a range of CPD-accredited courses, including English language. Our School can help you prepare for both IELTS and OET in partnership Swoosh English and Specialist Language Courses (SLC). Our course includes benchmark tests to allow our healthcare professionals to assess their current competency levels and select the right programme for them.
We’re also in the process of offering a scholarship programme in conjunction with Swoosh, where our healthcare professionals can receive a full refund on any courses purchased once they pass and take up a job via ID Medical.
Further information on the scholarships can be found here.

Contact Us

If you have any questions, concerns or you would like to use ID Medical to support you on your journey to the UK and secure you an NHS or private healthcare job – please do email us at

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