A Haematologist’s Route to the UK

  • June 28, 2022

There are several routes a haematologist can take to register with the GMC and practice in the NHS.   

Haematologists looking to secure a job in the NHS must satisfy certain criteria before fully registering with the GMC (General Medical Council) to receive a license to practice. For haematology, these criteria depend on where you received your training, and the qualifications you hold. In this blog, we’ll be giving you a snapshot of the steps you need to take to begin your journey to the UK as an overseas haematologist.

We’ll be covering the following: 

Skip ahead to the relevant section if you know what you’re looking for. 

Recognition of training 

For haematologists who trained in an EEA country (all countries inside the EU, also Lichtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland & Norway), there are several 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 GMC registration; check the relevant GMC page here

Knowledge and Skills for EEA Haematologists 

Basic Medical Training: If you meet the requirements for basic medical training, you will not need to demonstrate your medical knowledge and skills to work as a doctor in the UK, and would therefore not need to complete a Royal College postgraduate qualification or PLAB to register with a license to practice. You would be granted full registration in this case, without Specialist Registration. 

Specialist Training / Residency: If you meet the criteria for entry onto the Specialist Register, then once you have completed the GMC application process, you would be granted Specialist Registration in haematology and can be appointed as a substantive or permanent consultant in the NHS. So as a haematologist, if you hold a Relevant European Specialist qualification, you would be put on the specialist register for haematology and can be appointed as a substantive haematologist in the NHS. 

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

Therefore, for European haematologists, this is most likely the easiest route to becoming GMC-registered and being able to practice haematology in the UK. 

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

Knowledge and Skills for non-EEA Haematologists 

If you qualified as a haematologist outside the EEA, then you will have to demonstrate that both your medical knowledge and skills AND English Language capabilities meet the level required to practice safely in the UK. 

Haematologists who have trained from outside the UK and EEA must demonstrate to the GMC they have sufficient knowledge & skills to practice safely in the UK. This can be done through three main routes: 

Professional & Linguistics Assessment Board (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 haematology 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, haematologists 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. 

Royal College of Pathologists: The Royal College of Pathologists is the professional body that regulates the specialism of haematologists in the UK, and Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath) is the full qualification attainable by examination. For overseas doctors, attaining FRCPath will satisfy the knowledge & skill criteria for GMC registration and facilitate application for more senior roles in UK pathology. Take a look at IMG Resources library for a complete guide to FRCPath to learn more. 

Please note that only UK trainee haematologists are required to also complete the MRCP (UK) examinations. You can read more about this here.   

GMC-recognised or equivalent qualifications: Some overseas qualifications and licensing exams are recognised by the GMC and accepted for registration purposes. This is to say these qualifications or licensing exams are considered as meeting the same standards as the Royal College qualifications. 

To find out if your qualification is accepted by the GMC, take a look at our blog: Overseas accepted postgraduate qualifications 

English Language Testing 

Both EEA and non-EEA haematologists, 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 

Experience in English-speaking countries 

For doctors who have at least two years of their most recent experience in an English-speaking country, you can use a reference from your current employer or employers over these two or more years to demonstrate competence of the English language. This would exempt you from sitting an English language exam. 

Certificate of Good Standing 

All doctors registering with the GMC must provide a certificate of good standing from each medical regulatory authority they’ve 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're not currently registered or licensed with them. You can find out which medical regulatory authority to contact via the GMC website here

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

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

GMC Registration 

Once you’ve 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). 


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


(EEA haematologists) Sufficient skill and knowledge – as an EEA haematologist, this would either be your recognised EEA qualification. 

(Non-EEA haematologist) Sufficient skill and knowledge – as a non-EEA haematologist, this would either be PLAB, MRCP or a GMC-approved qualification. 

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


If you or your family are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, you may be able to apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme. Otherwise, you will need to apply for a visa from the Home Office

A Tier 2 visa is the document given to a skilled worker by the UK Home Office following a job offer from a UK employer with a valid Tier 2 Sponsorship License. The list of valid Tier 2 Sponsors can be found here

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 dependent visa below: Tier 2 Dependent visa - Can I bring my family with me to the UK? 

So there you have it! Hopefully this clarifies any questions or doubts you may have on your route to the UK as a haematologist planning a career in the NHS. If you have any questions, or wish to know more about the haematology job market then get in touch with our team. 

For regular news and updates on all things pathology, including the Royal College, GMC registration and the NHS, follow us on social media and join the conversation. 



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