Some colleges are more active (Psychiatry, Anaesthesiology) than the others. The BCL processes it's application independent of your specialty something called client funded training scheme. They charge around Stg. 750 for their services whilst the Royal College fees are a little less or not at all. Typical process time is around a few months.
There is no difference in someone with PLAB or someone with sponsorship to get a placement in future, just that there are some pros and cons. With PLAB, you can work in any other field if need be (Anaesthetists who want to do MRCP, may want to do a post or two in Medicine etc) which you cannot if sponsored. The sponsorship requires a 7 overall in IELTS as well, a little more than PLAB but that should not be a major thing.
Who qualifies ?
1. 4 years of clinical experience in that particular field
2. MD or similar degree. (often diplomas with 4 years experience is OK).
3. Currently also working in the same field
4. IELTS scores of 7 overall and in each part.
5. For BCL not more than 10 years of experience
6. Age less than 35 years
Sponsorship for Anaeshthetists:
Life has always been good for the anaesthetists, but not as much must say! Anaesthetists with more than 3 years of experience have been typically given PLAB Exemption. Though MD is mentioned as necessary, we know of more than 2 in the recent past who have got PLAB Exemption after 4 years and DA only.
The RCA typically gets you the sponsorship within 2 months. Sandra Woods is the person in charge and she is extremely efficient and professional about the whole thing. The rate limiting step is often the IELTS, you need scores of 7 overall and some convent educated doctors have found it difficult! The other tricky bit is finding a job after your have your PLAB Exemption in hand. The situation is not that bad that you have jobs offered to you by the RCA, just the PLAB Exemption.