European Oncologists - a doctor's route to the UK

  • May 02, 2022

There are several routes a European oncologist can take to GMC registration and medical or clinical (radiation) oncology in the NHS. 

All European oncologists looking to secure a job in the NHS will need to satisfy certain criteria before they can register for full GMC (General Medical Council) registration to practice in the NHS. As an oncologist, these criteria depend on where in the world you trained, and the qualifications you hold. In this blog, we’re giving you a snapshot of the steps you need to take to start your journey to the UK, as a European-qualified oncologist. We will be covering the following: 

EEA Doctors 

Firstly, it is important to note that where we refer to EEA in this article, this refers specifically to all countries inside the EU, including Lichtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland & Norway. If you trained & qualified as an oncologist inside the EEA or Switzerland, then you will have a few different options potentially available to you. 

Depending on the country and year you completed your residency or basic medical training, the GMC may automatically recognise your qualifications and grant you either General Registration, or Specialist Registration in the UK. To find out if your country’s qualifications will allow you to register for either general or specialist registration, check the relevant GMC page here

Knowledge and Skills

Basic Medical Training: If you have met the basic medical training requirements, this would mean that you would not need to demonstrate your medical knowledge and skills to work as a doctor in the UK and would not need to complete a UK- recognised postgraduate qualification or PLAB to register with a license to practice. You would be granted full registration in this case, but not Specialist Registration.  

Specialist Training / Residency: If you have met the criteria listed for your country, then once you have completed the GMC application process, you would be granted Specialist Registration in oncology and can be appointed as a substantive or permanent consultant in the NHS. So as an oncologist, if you hold a Relevant European Specialist qualification, you would be put on the specialist register for medical or clinical oncology and can be appointed as a substantive oncologist in the NHS. 

Therefore, the main hurdle that you will face as an EEA doctor will be demonstrating that your English skills are of a high enough standard to practice safely and proficiently as a doctor in the NHS. 

As a European oncologist, this is in most cases the easiest route to becoming GMC-registered and being able to practice oncology in the UK. 

If you do not meet the GMC requirements for your training to be approved for full or specialist registration, other routes you may consider to GMC registration include PLAB or (via the postgraduate route) the Royal College exams for either clinical oncology (FRCR) or medical oncology (MRCP). You can find out more about these alternative routes here

English Language Testing

All EEA oncologists, regardless of experience, and country of origin, must demonstrate that they have a sufficient grasp and competence of the English language. This can be done by passing either the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or the OET (OET – Occupational English Test). Detailed guides to these tests can be found below: 

IELTS – a guide for overseas doctors

OET – a guide for overseas doctors

Certificate of Good Standing

All doctors registering with the GMC must provide a certificate of good standing from each medical regulatory authority they have been registered or licensed with in the last five years.  

The medical regulatory authority may send you a certificate of past good standing if you are not currently registered or licensed with them. You can find out which medical regulatory authority to contact vis the GMC website here

Please note that each certificate is only valid for three months from the date it is signed and must be valid when the GMC approve your application. 

If there is no medical regulatory authority in the country to issue a certificate, the GMC will give you further advice once your application has been assessed. 

GMC Registration

Once you have completed your English language exam, you can now apply for full GMC registration with a license to practice. For registration, you must provide evidence of: 

English language capabilities - either your IELTS, OET or an approved reference from your current employer (if you have been working in an English-speaking country for the last two years)


Sufficient skill and knowledge – as an EEA oncologist, this would either be your recognised primary medical degree, or your recognised specialist European qualification (REQ) 


Certificate of good standing – the certificate from your medical regulatory authority which demonstrates good standing

To understand the registration process more fully, read our on GMC registration for overseas doctors here

So, there you have it! Hopefully any medical or radiation oncologist planning a career in the NHS should have their route to the UK clarified. If you ever have some questions or wish to know more about the oncology job market, then get in touch with our team. 

For regular news and updates on all things oncology, follow IMG Connect on social media using the links below:



Search Vacancies

Ask a question

Check your salary

error: Content is protected !!