The GMC is scrapping limited registration for international doctors and will now give immediate full registration to aid their entry into the UK health system.
Under the new arrangements, to take effect from April next year, overseas doctors who pass the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test will get full registration, plus a provisional licence to practise without the restrictions currently placed on their scope and duration of practice.
The new system has been welcomed by international doctors as it should remove the catch 22 of those who have PLAB struggling to get registration without a job but finding it just as hard to get a job without registration.
Dr Umesh Prabhu, vice-chair of the British Associat- ion of Physicians of Indian Origins, said it was an important step to getting the 500 or so unemployed overseas doctors with PLAB into work.
He said: 'The situation for these doctors has been desperate. I've visited ten of them living together in one room, because they can't afford rent.'
Doctors on the new provisional licence will be required to work in a managed environment for their first two years in the UK - which will also apply to new registrants from the UK and the European Economic Area.
Limited registration is one of the five current categories of registrations that will cease to exist. Instead, doctors will receive a generic registration, but will also need to hold a licence to practise.
There will be five new categories of licence (provisional, full, temporary, specialist and GP), awarded on the basis of qualification and experience.
While doctors have welcomed these changes, international doctors are also calling for a change to the visa situation. Currently they have to apply for a new visa for each new locum post, at a cost of £250 a go.