Overseas Recruitment - Doctors

All doctors intending to practise medicine in the UK are required to be registered with the GMC - General Medical Council, follow the GMC’s good medical practice guidance and be subject to the GMC Fitness to Practise actions.

Doctors who have never been registered with the GMC will have to apply for registration with a licence to practise. They will not be able to apply for registration without a licence.

The requirements for registration in the UK will depend on a number of factors:

  • your nationality
  • the country in which you gained your primary medical qualification
  • the type of work you want to do
  • whether or not you have completed a period of post-graduate training or an internship

First you should check that you possess an acceptable primary medical qualification to apply for registration. If you are in any doubt you should check your qualifications status with the GMC.

In addition, international medical graduates (IMGs) will be required to demonstrate their medical knowledge and skills, and all applicants may have to demonstrate they are competent in using the English language before they are registered.

Being registered with the GMC does not guarantee that you will find employment within the UK.

If you are not a UK/EEA national you will also need to meet the requirements of UK Visas and Immigration regulations to gain the right to enter and work in UK.

Types of registration (for overseas Doctors)

  • Provisional registration
  • International medical graduates who have an acceptable primary medical qualification and who have passed the PLAB test but who have not completed an internship.

  • Full registration
  • Full registration enables doctors to work in any form of professional medical practice in the UK, provided they hold a licence to practise. Doctors must, however, also hold specialist registration to take up a consultant post (other than a locum consultant post); and those wishing to work as GPs must be on the GP register.

  • Specialist registration
  • All consultants (other than a locum consultant appointment) must be on the specialist register of the General Medical Council (GMC). To be eligible to apply for specialist registration with the GMC, doctors must have successfully completed a GMC-approved training programme and been granted one of the following certificates:

    • Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT)
    • Certificate confirming Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR)
  • GP registration
  • Since 1 April 2006, all doctors working in general practice in the NHS in the UK (other than doctors in training such as GP registrars) are required to be on the GP Register. This requirement extends to locums.

    If you have not completed the UK GP Certificate of Completion of Training programme you will need to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility for General Practice Registration (CEGPR), which will then enable you to be entered on the GP Register. Doctors qualifying from outside the UK may be eligible to apply directly for full registration if they hold an acceptable primary medical qualification and have completed a period of postgraduate clinical experience (internship).

English language proficiency

Overseas doctors applying for registration must satisfy the GMC that they have the necessary knowledge of English. This may be demonstrated though the International Language Test System (IELTS) or the Occupational English Test (OET)

IELTS - For the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test to meet the GMC's requirements prospective registrants need to prove that they:

  • took the academic version of the test
  • got a score of at least 7.0 in each testing area and an overall score of 7.5 or more
  • got these scores in the same test
  • got these scores in the most recent sitting of the test

OET - The OET provides an alternative to the IELTS and was introduced on 8 Feb 2018. For the Occupational English Test (OET) to meet the GMC's requirements prospective registrants need to prove that they:

  • took the medicine version of the test
  • got at least a grade B in each testing area (speaking, listening, reading and writing)
  • got those grades in the same test
  • got these scores in the most recent sitting of the test

Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB)

The GMC uses the PLAB test to ensure that international doctors have the basic medical competence and communication skills to practise in the UK. Doctors wishing to take the PLAB test must have already successfully completed the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Occupational English Test (OET).

The first part of the PLAB test can be taken at a number of test centres overseas, but the second part must be taken in the UK. Further details about the PLAB test, including dates, test centres and costs, can be obtained from the GMC by visiting their website www.gmc-uk.org

Which type of registration is right for you? The GMC website has information about applying to join the register to help you assess the type of registration you may be eligible to apply for.

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