Clinical attachments

Read our guidance to find out what a clinical attachment is, where to find one and how to apply.

Location: International
Audience: International doctors
Updated: Wednesday 17 April 2024
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Clinical attachments are a useful way for international medical graduates to get a taste of the working lives of doctors in the NHS. You can observe a consultant in a relevant specialty without having the responsibility of patient care.


What is a clinical attachment?

A clinical attachment will help you prepare for working in the NHS.

It allows you to gain an overview of medical processes and systems in the NHS, by observing a consultant in a relevant speciality at work.

Attachments usually last between two and four months and cost from £400.

During the attachment, you are not given any responsibility and are not able to make clinical decisions or give clinical advice.

After a period observing the consultant, you may start to take on some clinical duties. This will be following a risk assessment, and at under the supervision of the consultant.

Duties are generally limited to:

  • observing consultations
  • participating in patient administration
  • taking patient histories
  • physical examinations
  • observing surgery.


Should I do a clinical attachment?

It is not a requirement for GMC registration or working in the NHS. However, you may find the experience usefully contributes towards showing that you meet the standards expected of doctors.

The experience you gain will be relevant to your GMC application for registration. It will ask for details of all your work experience from the last five years both medical and non-medical.

Experience shows that it is advisable to do a clinical attachment shortly before taking part two of the PLAB test or after you have passed it. This ensures you will get the most out of it.

The BMA does not support clinical attachments which charge and believes them to be exploitative, but understands that doctors may still wish to pursue them, and therefore present this information in order to help you make your decision.



You will need to meet the following conditions:

  • successful completion of a criminal records check
  • documents giving your proof of identity
  • if you are not a native English speaker, you will need an IELTS or OET certificate at level 7.5 or an equivalent level of English that you can demonstrate
  • occupational health clearance from the NHS trust
  • attendance at the doctors' induction day before the attachment commences, if applicable
  • satisfactory references from referees cited in the application form.


Generally, international medical graduates from outside the EEA need a standard visitor visa to come to the UK.

A standard visitor visa lasts for six months maximum, during which you can take the PLAB 2 test and complete the clinical attachment.

The current guidance Visit ( includes information about applications for visas, permission to enter and permission to stay in the UK for visitors. Page 33 covers Graduates of medical, dental and nursing schools.

Finding a clinical attachment

There is no UK-wide tool for finding a clinical attachment.

You can search the internet for clinical attachments including NHS hospitals and post graduate deaneries in your search. 

Alternatively, you could try asking any friends or family working in an NHS hospital if they can introduce you to a consultant in your specialty.



How to apply

International doctors new to the UK (IMGs)

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