Going abroad

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Returning to the NHS


The BMA encourages doctors to return to the UK after working abroad in the hope that their experiences will both enrich their own careers and benefit their future employers in the NHS.

This section is intended as a guide to doctors still undertaking postgraduate training to help facilitate your return to the NHS. Please ensure you check with the appropriate bodies for the most up-to-date information.


  • Accreditation for training posts abroad

    Work undertaken abroad can count towards certification in the UK, but this must be agreed well in advance. We suggest that you make an appointment to discuss your plans with your regional postgraduate dean at an early stage. At each grade, there are factors which must be taken into consideration.


  • Foundation programme

    UK medical graduates are strongly advised to complete foundation years one and two sequentially before going to work abroad. The foundation programme is designed to deliver generic competencies in a range of settings over a two-year period. Specialist and general practice training programmes will only be open to those who have acquired and satisfactorily demonstrated foundation competencies.

    If you wish to do your F1 training abroad, contact the GMC to confirm that this will lead to full registration in the UK.

    Some countries have no equivalent to F1 training, so these destinations would not be an option.

    GMC advice on undertaking F1 training outside of the UK


  • Postgraduate specialty training

    There are some circumstances in which a trainee can ask to spend some time out of their specialty training programme.

    All requests of this nature need to be agreed by the postgraduate dean and trainees are advised to discuss their proposals as early as possible.

    Time out of programme (OOP) will not normally be agreed until a trainee has been in a training programme for at least one year.

    Time out of programme for approved clinical training (OOPT)

    If a trainee wishes their training undertaken abroad to count towards their CCT they need to obtain prospective training approval. Provided the OOPT has been agreed in advance by the training programme director, the Local Education and Training Board (LETB) the relevant Royal College and the GMC and you continue satisfy the requirement for annual review you may retain your NTN. OOPT will normally be for one year in total, although this can be extended for up to two years with the agreement of the postgraduate dean.


    Time out of programme for clinical experience (OOPE)

    Clinical training that does not have prospective approval cannot contribute towards a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) but may be classed as OOPE. A request to undertake OOPE must be agreed by the postgraduate dean. As with OOPT, OOPE will normally be for one year in total, although this can be extended for up to two years with the agreement of the postgraduate dean.


  • Break in service

    If a doctor undertakes work overseas as part of a programme of postgraduate training, or a period of voluntary service with a recognised relief organisation, this would not be counted as a break in service and continuity would be preserved.

    Doctors should seek the approval of their relevant postgraduate dean prior to undertaking any such work.

    Read our guidance on volunteering abroad

    Contact us if you want more information on how a break in service can affect your employment


  • Services for returned travellers

    Hospital for Tropical Diseases
    Mortimer Market Centre, Capper Street, London, WC1E 6AU
    Tel: 0845 155 5000 or 020 7387 4411

    Royal Free Hospital
    Tel: 020 7830 2855 (for appointments)
    No GP referral required - fee charged for consultation