General & Acute Medicine - A Doctor’s Route to the UK (European & Non-European)

  • April 13, 2020
 

Which routes can overseas internal medicine doctors take to GMC registration & securing jobs in the NHS? 

All Medicine doctors looking to secure a job and work in the UK, whether you are from inside or outside of Europe, will need to satisfy certain criteria to fully register with the General Medical Council (GMC). Here we cover all the medical specialties that fall within the broader reach of General & Specialist Medicine to include specialisms such as cardiology, respiratory medicine, dermatology, gastroenterology, haematology, elderly care or geriatric medicine and general & acute medicine.

The criteria you must meet depends on where you currently live and practice, either inside the EEA (& associated countries) or outside the EEA. This article is designed to give you a snapshot of the steps you need to take to start your journey to the UK, no matter where in the world you live. 

Inside the EEA – click here

Outside the EEA – click here


“Doctors from countries around the world play a vital and significant role in our NHS and in the delivery of safe patient care. This is not only welcome but is part of the continuous exchange of knowledge in healthcare and should be strongly encouraged. They make an invaluable contribution to the NHS.” 

Joint statement from the Royal College of Physicians


Inside the EEA 

Firstly, it is important to note that where we refer to EEA in this article this refers to all countries inside the EU, including Lichtenstein, Iceland & Norway. 

If you qualified as a doctor inside the EEA or Switzerland, then the good news is that you don’t need to demonstrate your medical knowledge and skills to work as a doctor in the UK – you have already done this, and thanks to the EU your qualification is deemed equivalent. In addition, you will not need to apply for a visa from the UK Home Office. 


As an EEA doctor, the main hurdle that you will face is demonstrating that your English skills are of a high enough standard to practice safely as a doctor in the UK & NHS. 


English Language Testing

Any international doctor, regardless of specialty, experience or country of origin, must demonstrate they have sufficient competence of the English language.

You can do this by passing either of the following:

  • IELTS – International English Language Testing System
  • OET – Occupational English Test

Take a look at our helpful articles below for detailed information on both tests: 

IELTS – a guide for overseas doctors

OET – a guide for overseas doctors

GMC Registration

Having passed your English Language Test, you can now apply for full registration with a licence to practice with the GMC. For full GMC registration you must provide evidence of:

  • Evidence of English language capabilities (IELTS or OET)

AND

  • Evidence of sufficient skill and knowledge (your equivalent qualifications)

Understand the registration process in full & by reading our article: IMG Library - GMC Registration for overseas doctors

Job search

We recommend starting the job search as early as possible. Demand for European doctors in the NHS is ever increasing - the NHS welcomes you with open arms! At IMG Connect we specialise in securing jobs for European doctors in the UK and can offer you a wider range of jobs than are readily available online. 

Our network extends to psychiatry services and HR departments across the UK, so no matter what your grade or specialty we can ensure you will be interviewing for roles well in advance of any relocation plans. 

In addition, your dedicated consultant, with a speciality knowledge of General Medicine, will negotiate on your behalf ensuring you get the most competitive salary. 

Our aim is to have a job offer on the table before your GMC registration is complete, giving you the peace of mind of having an agreed contract in place - leaving you to carefully plan your relocation to the UK.

Take a look at our most recent jobs: Job Search 

Relocation

Obviously, any doctor’s journey isn’t all exams, registrations and language tests… there’s also the small matter of relocation and settling into life in the UK.

Once you have secured your role in the UK, we focus on supporting you and your family with all your relocation plans. This can include, but is not exclusive to, securing accommodation, travel planning, setting up bank accounts & national insurance numbers – every step of the way we are here to help.

Have a read through our IMG Library and take in all the beautifully organised information on relocation and UK life to immeasurably help your first days, weeks and months in the UK.

IMG Library – Relocation & UK Life

Brexit 

Many overseas doctors have questioned how the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) will affect doctors from Europe already working in the UK, and those who may wish to work here in the future.

Whilst we are still pushing for a halt to Brexit, we've been keeping a close eye on policies and developments to ensure that we keep our doctors as up to date as possible. While we await more information from the UK Government about what our future relationship with Europe will look like, what is clear is that European doctors are most welcome in the NHS with or without Brexit. 

At IMG Connect we do not see Brexit as an end to EEA doctors relocating to the UK, far from it… you are in demand and we will support with all the necessary requirements for entry to the UK, whatever the outcome. 

Take a look at our Brexit articles for more information: IMG Library - Brexit


Outside of the EEA

If you qualified as a doctor outside the EEA, then you will have to demonstrate that both your medical knowledge & skills and English Language capabilities meet the level required to practice safely in the UK. In addition, you will need to apply for a visa from the UK Home Office. 

Here we summarise the requirements for General Medicine doctors, looking at the following:

  • English Language Testing
  • Evidence of Knowledge & Skills - PLAB, MRCP or equivalents
  • Tier 2 Visas 
  • Full GMC Registration

English Language Testing

Any international doctor, regardless of specialty, experience or country of origin, must demonstrate they have sufficient competence of the English language. You can do this by passing either of the following:

  • IELTS – International English Language Testing System
  • OET – Occupational English Test

Take a look at our helpful articles below for detailed information on both tests: 

IELTS – a guide for overseas doctors

OET – a guide for overseas doctors

Evidence of Knowledge & Skills in Medicine

Overseas doctors must prove to the GMC they have sufficient knowledge & skills to practice safely in the UK. This can be done through three main routes:

  1. PLAB
  2. Royal College qualification of MRCP
  3. GMC - recognised or equivalent qualifications

Route 1 - PLAB:

The PLAB exam is a two-part exam that assesses a doctor’s ability to work safely as an SHO in the NHS, as such it does not demonstrate ability in Medicine specifically. 

For this reason, PLAB tends to be a route for junior doctors who have not already chosen their field of specialisation in medicine. 

That said, for some senior doctors PLAB can be an attractive option, offering a quicker route to the UK, whilst still securing competitive salaries. If taking this option, international doctors can then take up training or a more senior post once they have established themselves in the NHS. 

Take a look through our comprehensive guides on PLAB:

PLAB – a guide for overseas doctors

PLAB 1 – a closer look

PLAB 2 – a closer look

Route 2 - Royal College Qualification:

Attaining a Royal College qualification is a preferred path for doctors who have already chosen their field of specialism i.e. medicine. For senior medicine doctors taking this route, they will gain access to more senior, well-paid jobs in the specialism of their choice. 

The Royal College of Physicians is the Professional Body that regulates the specialism of medicine in the UK, and Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) is the full qualification attainable by examination.

For overseas doctors, attaining MRCP will satisfy the knowledge & skill criteria for GMC registration and facilitate application for more senior roles in UK medicine.

Take a look at our complete guide on Membership of the Royal College of Physicians to understand more: MRCP – a guide for overseas doctors

GMC - recognised or equivalent qualifications:

Some overseas qualifications are recognised by the GMC and accepted for registration purposes. This means to say these qualifications are considered as meeting the same standards as the Royal College qualifications.

There are qualifications from several countries around the world that are currently accepted by the GMC. 

Find out if your qualification is accepted by the GMC: Overseas accepted postgraduate qualifications

Tier 2 Visa

If you are a doctor applying from outside the EEA region you will almost certainly need to apply for a visa to work in the UK. 

Applying as a doctor or nurse has never been easier and there is currently no-restriction on the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) applications that a hospital can make. Furthermore, the list of specialties on the shortage occupation list is due for imminent review and expansion beyond its current list of specialties, potentially widening the scope for easier immigration processes across all specialties in healthcare.

Understand Tier 2 visas and Certificates of Sponsorship in depth by taking a look at our article: Tier 2 Visa application process & documents needed

Wondering whether you can relocate with your family? Take a look at our blog on the Tier 2 dependant visa: Tier 2 Dependant visa - can i bring my family with me to the UK?

GMC Registration

With everything in place, you can apply for full registration with a licence to practice with the GMC. Remember, for full GMC registration you must provide evidence of:

  • Evidence of English language capabilities

AND

  • Evidence of sufficient skill and knowledge (PLAB, MRCP or equivalent)

Understand the registration process in full & by reading our article: GMC Registration for overseas doctors

Job search

We recommend starting the job search as early as possible. Demand for Non-EEA doctors in the NHS is increasing - the NHS welcomes you with open arms! 

At IMG Connect we specialise in securing jobs for overseas doctors in the UK and can offer you a wider range of jobs than is readily available online. 

Our network extends to general medicine services and HR departments across the UK, so no matter what your grade or specialty we can ensure you will be interviewing for roles well in advance of any relocation plans. 

In addition, your 1-1 consultant, with a speciality knowledge of medicine, will negotiate on your behalf, ensuring you get the most competitive salary. 

Giving you the peace of mind of agreeing your new contract, perhaps even before your GMC registration is complete. Take a look at our most recent jobs: Job Search

Relocation

Obviously, any doctor’s journey isn’t all exams, registrations and language tests… there’s also the small matter of relocation and settling into life in the UK.

Once you have secured your role in the UK, we will focus on supporting you and your family with all of your relocation plans. This can include, but is not exclusive to, securing accommodation, travel planning, setting up bank accounts & national insurance numbers – every step of the way we are here to help. 

Have a read through our IMG Library and take in all the beautifully organised information on relocation and UK life to immeasurably help your first days, weeks and months in the UK. Take a look here: IMG Library – Relocation & UK Life

Brexit 

Many doctors have questions about how the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) will affect doctors from outside of the EEA already working in the UK, and those who may wish to work here in the future.

Whilst we are still pushing for a halt to Brexit, we've been keeping a close eye on policies and developments to ensure that we keep our doctors as up to date as possible. While we await more information from the UK Government about what our future relationship with Europe will look like, what is clear is that there are no current changes to immigration entry requirements for non-EEA doctors

Overseas doctors are most welcome in the NHS with or without Brexit… you are in demand and we will support with all the necessary requirements for entry to the UK. 

Take a look at our Brexit articles for more information: IMG Library - Brexit


IMG Jobs 

Specialist Medicine: Click here to find live NHS specialist medicine job opportunities in the UK

General & Acute Medicine: Click here to find live NHS general & acute medicine job opportunities in the UK

IMG Resources

In our IMG Resources library you can read more useful articles on finding an NHS trust doctor job, pay scales & doctor’s salary in the UK, relocation and much more!  

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Get in touch using the buttons above (and below) to discuss job opportunities in the NHS, including discussions regarding a typical doctor salary in the UK and the most suitable hospital locations for you.

 

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