Life and work in the UK Overseas qualified doctor

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Are you new to working in the UK?

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We can help progress your career

Use our guide to working in the UK to help every aspect of your planning - from what to consider before you arrive, to help with finding a post or postgraduate training, to sorting out the terms and conditions of your new contract.


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  • Use this checklist

    Be informed

    Make sure you research the different immigration categories. The UK's immigration system undergoes frequent changes which can reduce the availability of opportunities to come to the UK. Under the current immigration system, non-EEA doctors are likely to find it extremely difficult to find employment as a doctor-in-training if they are not a UK medical school graduate.


    Check out the competition

    While there are shortages in some specialties in the UK, this is not the same for training posts. Competition for training posts is intense and is continuing to increase. The NHS is heading towards a system of self-sufficiency meaning that it will be less reliant on overseas medical staff.


    Assess your chances

    Do as much research as possible into the current employment situation and realistically assess your chances of securing a job.


    Plan, plan, plan

    Plan well in advance and gather as much information as you can before you come to the UK.


    Make contact

    Write to the responsible organisations, asking specific questions and make sure that you have everything in writing. Do not rely on telephone advice alone keep copies of all correspondence and documents you have submitted, just in case you have problems later.


    Do you comply?

    Check the immigration rules to make sure you comply with them and to ensure there have not been any changes since you last checked.


  • How to gain access to postgraduate training

    While there are shortages in some specialties in the UK, competition for training posts is intense and is continuing to increase. The NHS is heading towards a system of self-sufficiency meaning that it will be less reliant on overseas medical staff.

    Up-to-date details can be found on the NHS Specialty Training website.

    Check NHS Specialty training 


    Rules for EEA doctors

    If you are from the EEA you may enter speciality training programmes in the UK on the same basis as UK doctors.

    You must meet entry requirements however, and it is important to check with the appropriate royal college whether any recognition can be given for training already undertaken abroad.

    On completion of speciality training in the UK, EEA doctors are granted a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) which makes you eligible for entry to the UK specialist register. The CCT provides recognition as specialists in all other member states of the EEA.


    Can I train to be a GP?

    EEA doctors are free to train as GPs on the same basis as UK doctors and your qualifications will be recognised in other EEA countries.

    There are a few countries which have a two-tier system of general practice:

    • Basic tier - the training for which meets the minimum requirements set out in European legislation
    • Specialist tier -  the training for which takes longer

    Although UK training lasts for the three-year minimum set out in legislation, it may only be recognised for the basic tier in some other countries. If you move elsewhere, you may need to be assessed on an individual basis for admission to the specialist tier.

    This has been a problem for a few doctors returning to Germany, for example. If you think the issue may apply to you, please check with the authorities in your own country before beginning your training in the UK.


    Rules for non-EEA doctors

    Information on training opportunities, the application process and the competition for training posts is available on the NHS Specialty Training website.


    Important information

    • Non-EEA doctors coming to the UK are restricted from working as a doctor-in-training. The only exceptions to this restriction are if you qualified at a medical school in the UK
    • The only training posts available to non-EEA doctors who have not qualified at a medical school in the UK are are posts where no suitable resident worker has been found to take up the post. Doctors from outside the EEA can take up these posts by obtaining a Tier 2 (General) visa
    • Check the details of the post you are applying for. Some posts that are advertised may look like training posts but may not lead to a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT)


    Overseas doctors training schemes

    The Overseas doctors training scheme (ODTS) and International sponsorship scheme (ISS) are dual-sponsorship schemes administered by the medical royal colleges in the UK.

    They were launched to provide highly-skilled overseas-qualified doctors with structured and supervised specialist training in postgraduate training posts in the UK.

    Doctors who qualified in, or are resident in the EEA are not eligible. ODTS/ISS graduates are expected to return to their own country on completion of the agreed period of training.


    What do I need to do to be considered by one of the Royal college schemes?

    To be considered for one of the Royal colleges ODTS/ISS schemes (the names of these can vary), you will need to have been recommended to the relevant Royal college in the UK by a sponsoring organisation in your own country.

    The sponsors overseas must satisfy the Royal college that they can personally vouch for you with regard to your professional expertise and competence in English. In addition, the sponsor must satisfy the Royal college that suitable employment will be arranged for you on your return.

    Each college has its own criteria for selection of candidates for sponsorship under the schemes, but some general rules apply.

    You must possess a qualification which is acceptable for full registration in the UK.

    If accepted on a scheme, you will not be required to sit the PLAB test in order to gain registration, but proof of a high standard in English is a prerequisite, ie an overall score of at least seven in the IELTS exam with a minimum of 7 in speaking and 6 in reading, listening and writing.

    In addition, you will normally be required to have obtained a postgraduate medical qualification in the specialty in which you wish to train in Britain and have at least two years' clinical experience in medicine or surgery gained at postgraduate level. However, for details of requirements specific to your specialty you should contact the relevant royal college. 

    Please note - competition for places on the ODTS/ISS is very high and some colleges are ceasing to run such schemes, especially in light of the recent changes to the immigration rules for postgraduate doctors and dentists and due to withdrawal of funding. 

    It is very important you check the current situation with the appropriate individual royal college. 

    Find out more about the PLAB test


    Medical Training Initiative (MTI)

    The MTI is an initiative that allows non-EEA doctors to get training and experience in the UK for up to two years before returning to their own healthcare systems. 

    It does not allow formal approved training posts (such as speciality and foundation training posts), but rather, approved posts by Deaneries and a wide range of relevant Medical Royal Colleges for education and training.

    The MTI operates under Tier 5 immigration rules.

    Find out more about MTI  

    Find out more about Tier 5 visas


    Applying to a Foundation Programme

    Applications to the Foundation Programme are made through a single UK-wide application process.

    Generally the application process opens in October and closes in November or December for the following August's entry.

    Any unfilled posts are then made available to applicants who were not eligible in round 1, which means they have already undertaken an internship year.

    If you have graduated from a medical school outside the UK you will need to have your eligibility to apply to the Foundation Programme checked by
    the Eligibility Office.

    You will also need to undertake a clinical assessment.

    You will be eligible to apply for the Foundation Programme if you meet the following criteria:

    • You are a UK or EEA national
    • You are currently studying medicine at a UK medical school and you are in your final year and currently have a Tier 4 student visa
    • You have the right to work in the UK at the time of application and will continue to have a valid right to work at the time of starting the Foundation programme

    Find out more about the Foundation programme 


    Rules for international doctors who have not studied in the UK

    If there are still vacancies on the Foundation Programme after the national recruitment process, then vacancies may be advertised.

    If a vacancy is advertised and there are there are no suitable applicants from the UK or EEA, then the post can be offered to doctors outside of the UK/EEA and a Tier 2 (General) visa may then be obtained. But be warned, places are heavily oversubscribed so make enquiries before making plans to come to the UK.

    What you should do

    Overseas doctors are strongly advised to complete their pre-registration year in their own country. This is because posts are designed to complement UK undergraduate medical training and the number of posts is linked to the number of UK graduates. This means that opportunities are limited.

    In addition, most overseas doctors will need to complete the IELTS and PLAB tests successfully before being granted limited registration by the GMC. Please note that the PLAB test assesses basic medical competence and an ability to communicate in English for suitability to work at F2 levels.

    How to apply to the foundation programme


    Clinical attachments

    These are not paid placements, and indeed some hospitals ask doctors to pay to undertake clinical attachments. Normally you will be allocated a named supervisor who is responsible for you. Attachments usually last between two and four months.

    Experience shows that it is advisable to do a clinical attachment shortly before taking part 2 of the PLAB test or after you have successfully passed it. This ensures that you will get the most out of it.

    As doctors on clinical attachments are only observing, and not engaging in clinical practice, you do not need GMC registration. There is no central body that arranges clinical attachments so you must arrange your own by contacting hospital medical staffing departments directly, enclosing a copy of your CV.

    Find contact details for hospitals on the NHS - Find and choose services section and some postgraduate deaneries may also be able to assist.

    Check NHS Clinical Attachments / Observerships for further information.

    Please be aware that demand for clinical attachments is very high and it can take time before you secure one.

    We are in the process of devising more detailed guidance on clinical attachments.

  • Contracts and working conditions

    How are doctors employed in the UK?

    There are as many different types of contractual arrangement as there are sections of the medical profession in the UK. Needless to say contractual arrangements can be complicated!

    But this is where being a BMA member really comes into its own.

    We produce handbooks and guidance notes and even give advice on individual queries through our advisory service, FPC. But we can only provide these services for our members.

    It is a good idea to join as soon as possible - especially if you are unfamiliar with the system in the UK.


    A summary of contractual arrangements for hospital doctors

    Junior doctors, consultants and career grade doctors in hospitals and in public health and community settings are usually salaried employees.


    Junior doctors

    Junior doctors are employed on a national negotiated UK contract.



    There are national agreements on terms and conditions of service for consultants, but Foundation Trusts are free to determine their own contracts and conditions, so there may be variations. Many consultants have contracts which allow them to spend a certain percentage of their time on private work. However it is unusual for doctors to work only in private practice.


    Staff and associate specialists

    A new contract was negotiated for the SAS grades which was officially implemented from 1 April 2008.

    Doctors who work in academic posts have parity with NHS hospital doctors, meaning they should be paid comparable salaries. Terms and conditions of service may vary from one university to another.


    General practitioners

    Most NHS GPs are independent contractors, which means that they are self-employed but have a contract to provide specific services on certain terms.

    GP practices have lists of patients and the NHS money coming into practices reflects the workload of these patients and is linked with their gender and age. Additional income comes via a system of linking resources with the quality of care offered - the Quality and Outcomes Framework.

    The income of individual practices will vary according to patient numbers and types of patient (the elderly attract more resources than the young). Some GPs work alone, but the majority practice in partnerships, with several other family doctors. They employ nurses and other staff, sometimes including salaried GPs, and need to be aware of their responsibilities as employers.

    Along with the national GP contract or GMS (General Medical Services) contract, there are local contracts called  Personal Medical Services (PMS) contracts. A substantial number of GPs are working under PMS contracts.

    Find out more about the General Medical Services contract

    Find out more about the PMS contract

    Others work as salaried GPs, either employed by the primary care organisation, by a GMS or PMS GP practice or by private bodies (Alternative Providers of Medical Services - APMS) providing NHS services free of charge to patients.

    It is important for all salaried GPs to have their employment contract checked by the BMA although this is a service only provided for BMA members.

    Many GPs work less than full time. Others may have portfolio careers, developing specialist interests in a variety of clinical areas. In addition, a number of GPs work on a freelance, locum basis, providing cover for a GP contractor when another GP is on sick or maternity leave.

    To work as a GP in the UK, the doctor must be on the GMC's GP register. In addition, they must be on the performers list of a primary care organisation in the county where they intend to work. It is advisable to apply for entry onto both the GP register and a performers list in advance.


    Join the BMA today

    Once you have joined contact us by email or phone 0300 123 123 3 for information about the pay and terms and conditions of service for the area of medicine in which you plan to work.

    Employment advisers and industrial relations officers will be able to give advice about your contract. Or contact them if you are having problems at work.

  • Help with finding a post

    There is no national organisation to help doctors find posts in the UK, although there are commercial agencies that place doctors as locums, which means they cover for doctors who are absent from work on a temporary basis.

    You will need to find a post yourself and apply for it directly, but if you are looking for a training post, make sure that you have taken advice from the relevant training body and have a clear idea of your plans before you apply.

    Check the NHS Specialty Training website


    Where posts are advertised

    Most jobs are advertised on BMJ Careers, the Lancet or the NHS Jobs website.

    It is also worth looking in specialist journals, depending on where your interests lie, and in national broadsheet newspapers, where research and academic posts may be advertised, as well as posts outside medicine for which a medical background might be useful.

    All members of the BMA receive the BMJ as a benefit of membership. If you join while you are living abroad you will have access to the BMJ which contains BMJ Careers.


    Competition for posts is intense so be prepared

    When applying for posts in open competition you will be assessed on merit.

    For specialty training posts details of the competition ratios can be found at NHS Specialty Training.

    If you believe that you have been discriminated against unfairly for any reason (for example, on the grounds of your ethnic origin, gender or sexual orientation) you can contact a BMA adviser if you are a member by calling 0300 123 123 3.


    How to apply for a post

    Employers will often ask for a curriculum vitae (CV), and many will also have their own application forms. There are no firm rules about how to set out a CV, but it should be well-presented, starting with basic information about yourself and including full details of your education and academic qualifications, previous employment, publications and references. A well-written covering letter will help to make a good impression.

    Read our tips for writing a good CV

    Read BMJ Careers advice on writing a CV

    If English is not your first language, it is probably worth asking a native speaker to check whatever you are submitting. There are also commercial companies which will help you to draw up a CV.

    Employers will then form a shortlist and invite a small number of applicants for interview.

    Recruitment for specialty training has a fixed timetable each year which can be found at NHS Specialty Training


    General practice

    If you wish to work in an existing practice, vacancies are advertised in the same way as other posts.


    Work experience

    There are various ways to get work experience and all have different advantages. Read about them below to see which would be best for you.


    Clinical (observer) attachments

    A lot of International Medical Graduates choose to undertake a clinical (observer) attachment to gain familiarity with the NHS.

    Clinical attachments are work placements carried out in a hospital or general practice surgery, where a doctor shadows another doctor to find out about the work that they do and how the NHS works.

    Securing an attachment might also help you overcome cultural differences in the UK and familiarise you with local accents. You may also encounter medical conditions that are common in the UK and with which you may not be familiar. We are in the process of devising detailed guidance on clinical attachments.


    Induction courses

    Postgraduate deaneries run induction courses for overseas and EEA doctors who are about to start their first job in the NHS. Induction courses are free and held throughout the UK. For further information doctors should contact their local postgraduate deanery.


    Going into private practice - an overview

    Any doctor fully registered with the GMC and, if necessary, with self-employment status under the immigration rules, is entitled to set up in private practice.

    Although you do not need to inform the GMC, or seek its permission to work in private practice, you are required to follow the guidance set out in its booklet Good Medical Practice. This booklet sets out clearly the responsibilities of doctors and constraints on them particularly with regard to the advertising of their services.

    Certain doctors engaged in private practice need to register with the Care Quality Commission. In order to ascertain whether or not you will be required to register, please contact the Care Quality Commission.

    If you are not an EEA citizen and you plan to be self-employed in private practice you will need to fulfil the requirements of the immigration rules for self-employed people. Full details can be found on the UK Border Agency website.

    It is essential that all private practitioners have an adequate level of indemnity cover from one of the medical defence bodies and you should make arrangements with, for example, the Medical Defence Union, Medical Protection Society or Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland to ensure that you have appropriate cover.

    Check the Useful contacts section for details


    Other sources of advice

    Health and Safety Executive

    Independent Doctors Federation


    Advice for BMA members

    Read our guidance to Setting up in private practice

    Talk to one of our advisers on 0300 123 1233

    Email the BMA Private Practice department

  • Immigration regulations

    The following information is intended as a general guide only, and should not be used as a sole source of information.


    Any International medical graduate (IMG) coming to the UK must satisfy UK immigration requirements. These are handled entirely separately from registration matters.

    Please note that being granted a particular type of registration has no influence on a doctor's immigration status and does not mean that you will automatically be allowed to remain in the UK.

    Immigration law is very complex and doctors should seek detailed advice from UK Visas and Immigration or from a licensed immigration adviser.

    Doctors who are still overseas can seek advice from the British High Commission,  Embassy or consulate.

    Find contact details on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website


    Rules for nationals of European Economic Area (EEA) member states and Swiss nationals

    Doctors who are citizens of the EEA, with the exception of Croatian nationals, and Switzerland can enter the UK freely and work here without any restrictions.

    Croatian nationals need to seek specific permission to work in the UK. Further details are available from the Croatian nationals section of the Gov.UK website.


    Rules for doctors with specific entry rights

    Doctors from beyond the EEA may have specific rights to live and work in the UK, for example as the spouse of an EEA national or because they have commonwealth ancestry rights. Doctors who think that they may have such rights should seek advice from the UKBA or the British representative overseas.


    Rules for non-EEA doctors

    Doctors who do not have any rights to live and work in the UK must satisfy immigration requirements appropriate to their reasons for coming to the UK. The various immigration processes can take time so you must factor this in when applying for posts.


    I want to take the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test, what are the visa requirements?

    If you are entering Britain to sit the PLAB test (see section on regulation for more information) you should request leave to enter the UK for the purposes of taking the PLAB test.

    This does not entitle you to work in the UK.

    If you are subject to the immigration rules you may be admitted to the UK for a period of six months to take the PLAB test, and extensions may be granted by the UKBA, with the maximum amount of leave an individual can be granted being 18 months.

    On passing the PLAB test, you may apply to the Home Office for permission to remain in the UK to undertake a clinical attachment, or for permission to switch to a Tier 2 (General) visa if you have an offer of employment.

    Full details can be found on the Gov.UK website:
    Part 3 - Persons seeking to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for studies.


    I want to undertake a clinical attachment, what are the visa requirements?

    If you want to enter and remain in the UK to undertake a clinical attachment you can apply for leave to enter and remain which will normally be granted in line with the clinical attachment. Leave will not normally be granted for more than six weeks at a time with a maximum of six months in total. Furthermore, the post must be unpaid and involve observation only.
    Read more guidance in the Finding a post section

    Full details can be found on the Gov.UK website:
    Part 3 - Persons seeking to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for studies


    Doctors working in the UK

    Employers must apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship and will usually be required to show that no suitably qualified resident worker is available to do the job. The process is simplified if the post is considered a shortage occupation. Once you have been issued with a Certificate of Sponsorship you will be able to apply for a Tier 2 (general) visa. This is the permission that you will need to stay in the UK and this visa will be specific to a particular post or job. If you then move to another job you would have to make a new application for leave. After a continuous period five years spent on a Tier 2 (General) visa you can apply for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residency) in the UK.

    Further information is available on the Gov.UK website:
    Part 5 - Persons seeking to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for employment


    The above information is intended as a general guide only, and should not be used as a sole source of information.


    Immigration advice service

    If you are a BMA member, you are entitled to access our immigration advice service which provides free, basic immigration advice in connection with your employment or study in the UK.

    Initial free advice covers:

    • Advice on applications for leave to enter or remain in the UK that are within the immigration rules
    • Diagnosis of the member's need for specific immigration advice
    • Provision of one-off advice

    Find more about the the BMA immigration advice service

    See our guide to UK immigration 


    Refugee doctors

    The BMA is one of a number of organisations which is committed to helping refugee doctors re-establish their medical careers in the UK.

    This work includes maintaining the Refugee Doctors' Database, which collects details on the numbers of refugee doctors in the UK, their location and stage of their career and registration process. It also offers a benefits package through the Refugee Doctor Initiative which entitles doctors to receive the BMJ free each week and use the BMA library.

    Read more about the Refugee initiative

    Find other refugee doctor resources

    Contact the Immigration and International department

  • Medical defence and indemnity

    Does the NHS provide medical indemnity for its employees?

    The NHS Litigation Authority provides indemnity to employees in respect of clinical negligence claims. There are equivalent organisations in the Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

    Since 1990, the NHS has had financial responsibility for negligence attributable to medical and dental staff employed in the hospital and community health services. Most doctors employed by the NHS are covered for the duties listed in their contract by the Hospital and Community Health Services indemnity scheme (often called NHS or Crown Indemnity), and are not obliged by law to take out additional medical defence cover.

    Find out more about the NHS Litigation Authority


    Will this provide sufficient cover?

    Health service indemnity schemes in place across the UK provide support for clinical negligence claims, but not for disciplinary issues, or referrals to the General Medical Council. There will also be situations where NHS indemnity does not apply. We strongly recommend that you take out supplementary insurance with one of the medical defence bodies or provide yourself with other personal indemnity insurance.

    This is because the NHS indemnity scheme only covers medical negligence claims which arise from contracted NHS duties.

    The following are examples of eventualities and activities which are not covered:

    • defence of medical staff in GMC disciplinary proceedings for stopping at a roadside accident, and other good Samaritan acts not listed in your contract
    • clinical trials not covered under legislation
    • work for any outside agency on a contractual basis
    • work for voluntary or charitable bodies
    • work overseas

    It is essential that you understand exactly what your NHS contracted duties are (if necessary, ask your employer for clarification). Then you should decide what separate indemnity cover you need for any work you may do that is not covered by the NHS scheme, and seek advice from one of the medical defence societies with regard to the type of liability insurance you will require.


    Are General Practitioners covered by the NHS scheme?

    GP contractors, locum GPs and salaried GPs employed by practices are not covered by the NHS scheme and should seek advice from the medical defence organisations about personal medical indemnity cover.

    GPs employed by other NHS organisations should check with their employer whether they are covered by the NHS scheme and arrange for their own personal medical indemnity insurance if they are not.

    Similarly, doctors undertaking private work or work in independent hospitals are responsible for arranging their own liability insurance with a medical defence body of their choice.


    Who are the medical defence organisations?

    Medical Defence Organisations (MDOs) are mutual non-profit making organisations, owned by their members. All MDOs provide members with 24-hour access to advice and assistance on medico-legal issues arising from clinical practice which fall outside the scope of indemnity provided by NHS bodies.

    There are three MDOs: Medical Defence Union (MDU), Medical Protection Society (MPS) and Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS). As the benefits of membership of the MDOs differ, it is important that you consider each one carefully before making a choice.


    How to contact the medical defence organisations:

    Medical Defence Union (MDU)
    One Canada Square, London E14 5GS
    Tel: 0800 716 376

    Medical Protection Society (MPS)
    33 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PS
    Tel 0845 718 7187

    Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS)
    120 Blythswood Street, Glasgow G2 4EA
    Tel: 0845 270 2034

  • Registration

    You need to be on the UK medical register before you can do any clinical work or write prescription drugs in the UK.

    The General Medical Council (GMC) holds the medical register. The GMC is the regulatory and disciplinary body for the medical profession and it keeps the UK specialist and General Practitioner registers.


    Give yourself time

    • Contact the GMC well in advance to find out what you need to do
    • Allow plenty of time to complete all the formalities
    • Do not expect to go to the GMC and register on the spot as it can be a lengthy process


    How do I register?

    Arrangements differ depending on where you are from.

    If you are from the EEA registration can be relatively simple.

    If you are from outside the EEA the procedures for registration can be more complex.


    What are the different types of registration ?

    • Provisional registration - this is granted to newly qualified doctors to undertake general clinical training needed for full registration. Doctors with provision registration can only work in Foundation House Officer Year One (FHO1) posts
    • Full registration - if you want to undertake unsupervised medical practice in the NHS or private sector you will require full registration
    • Specialist registration - you must be on the specialist register to be able to take up substantive or honorary consultant posts in the UK
    • General Practitioner (GP) - all doctors working in general practice (excluding trainees) must be on the GP register.


    Is there a registration fee?

    There is an initial fee for registration and an annual fee to remain on the register. You will need to contact the GMC to find out which category of registration you can apply for and how much it will cost.

    Find out more about registration on the GMC website


    Licence to practice

    It is now a legal requirement to be registered with the GMC and to hold a licence to practice. The licence is issued by the GMC and is virtual - it is an online record which is held on the medical register. The licence to practice is part of the UK's regulation system called Revalidation.

    Find out more about the licence to practice


    What is revalidation?

    Doctors have to demonstrate to the GMC every five years that they are up to date and fit to practise, although they will have to demonstrate they are up to date throughout the five year period.

    The revalidation process is based on 'Good Medical Practice' which sets out the principles and values on which good practice is founded, including the duties of doctors registered with the GMC. The revalidation process started in 2012 and the GMC expects to revalidate most doctors in the UK for the first time by March 2016.

    Read GMC guidance on revalidation

    We have guidance on revalidation which is more relevant to doctors once they are established in the UK. Even if you are new to the UK it gives a useful background to the subject and a helpful overview of how the process as it relates to your working life.

    Read BMA guidance on revalidation

  • Your health

    NHS employers should protect the health of their staff from hazards arising from their work. Occupational health services have mainly a preventive, rather than a curative, function. As a doctor you also have an obligation to protect your patients from any dangers that might arise from your own ill health.

    Good Medical Practice - guidance from the GMC outlines in the Health section
    If you know that you have, or think that you might have, a serious condition that you could pass on to patients, or if your judgement or performance could be affected by a condition or its treatment, you must consult a suitably qualified colleague. You must ask for and follow their advice about investigations, treatment and changes to your practice that they consider necessary. You must not rely on your own assessment of the risk you pose to patients.


    Hepatitis B and C

    All doctors carrying out exposure prone procedures must be immune to hepatitis B. Exposure prone procedures are those in which there is a risk that injury to the doctor might lead to exposure of a patient's open tissues to the doctor's blood. If you do not have natural immunity you will be offered vaccination with appropriate follow up to ensure that you become immune. Doctors who are infected with hepatitis B or C must seek advice about appropriate changes to their working practice.

    Information on being tested for blood borne viruses is available on our website. Your occupational health department will also be able to advise you.



    Doctors in Britain are not routinely screened for HIV infection. All doctors who think that they may be at risk of HIV infection, through their professional or personal activities, must seek advice and testing. Doctors who are HIV positive must not carry out exposure prone procedures. Doctors who do not follow this guidance face disciplinary action by the GMC and their employers. NHS employers should make every effort to arrange suitable retraining and alternative work for infected doctors.


    Other illness

    Doctors may risk harming their patients if they are ill for other reasons. Alcohol and drug abuse and some psychiatric illnesses are obvious examples of problems that could put patients at risk. If you have such problems you should seek professional help quickly to restore your own health and protect your patients.


    Wellbeing support services

    Making a new start in a different country is a stressful experience.

    Find out how we can help

    The BMA provides help for doctors and medical students who are in difficulty, feeling anxious and alone, through two unique, nationwide telephone support services - Counselling and Peer support.

    Both services are confidential. They can be used to discuss a range of issues including stress, bullying, GMC concerns, substance abuse, depression and debt.

    The Counselling service is staffed by professional counsellors 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All counsellors are members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, and are bound by strict codes of confidentiality and ethical practice. Ongoing counselling is available and you can arrange regular appointments. Having spoken to a counsellor, you can request to speak to that person again.

    The Peer support service gives doctors in distress or difficulty, the opportunity of speaking in confidence to another doctor.It's peer support with an emotional focus.

    Your wellbeing is important


    0330 123 1245


  • Useful contacts


    British Medical Association, International Department, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JP.
    Tel: 020 7383 6133 or 6793
    Fax: 020 7383 6644
    Email: [email protected]

    British Council (General Enquiries)
    Tel: 0161 957 7755
    Fax: 0161 957 7762
    Email: [email protected]

    British Medical Journal, BMJ Publishing Group, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JP.
    Tel: 020 7387 4410



    Care Quality Commission
    Tel: 03000 616161



    Department of Health, Richmond House, 79 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2NS.
    Tel: 020 7210 4850

    Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Castle Buildings, Stormont, Belfast, BT4 3SQ.
    Tel: 028 90 520500
    Email: [email protected]



    Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine, c/o Royal College of Physicians, 11 St Andrew's Place, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4LE.
    Tel: 020 7580 8490
    Email: [email protected]

    Faculty of Occupational Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians, 6 St Andrew's Place, Regents Park, London, NW1 4LB.
    Tel: 020 7317 5890
    Fax: 020 7317 5899

    Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine, 1 St Andrew's Place, Regents Park, London, NW1 4LB.
    Tel: 020 7224 0343
    Fax: 020 7224 5381
    Email: [email protected]

    Faculty of Public Health Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of the UK, 4 St Andrew's Place, Regents Park, London, NW1 4LB.
    Tel: 020 7935 0243
    Fax: 020 7224 6973
    Email: [email protected]

    Foreign and Commonwealth Office



    General Medical Council, Regent's Place, 350 Euston Road, London, NW1 3JN.
    Tel: 0161 923 6602



    Independent Doctors Federation
    Tel: 020 8090 3470
    Email: [email protected]

    International English Language Testing System (IELTS)



    Medical Defence Union Services Ltd, 230 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8PJ.
    Tel: 08444 20 20 20
    Email: [email protected]

    Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland, Mackintosh House, 120 Blythswood Street, Glasgow, G2 4EA.
    Tel: 0845 270 2034
    Fax: 0141 228 1208
    Email: [email protected]

    Medical Foundation for AIDS and Sexual Health, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JP.
    Tel: 020 7383 6345
    Fax: 020 7388 2544
    Email: [email protected]

    Medical Protection Society, 33 Cavendish Square, London, W1G 0PS.
    Tel: 0845 605 4000
    Fax: 0113 241 0500
    Email: [email protected]

    Medical Research Council, 20 Park Crescent, London, W1B 1AL.
    Tel: 01793 416 200
    Fax: 020 7436 6179
    Email: [email protected]



    National Health Service

    NHS Careers
    Tel: 0345 60 60 655

    NHS Employers
    Tel: 0113 306 3000

    NHS Jobs

    NHS Professionals

    NHS Wales



    Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner, 5th Floor, Counting House, 53 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2QN.
    Tel: 0845 000 0046
    Fax: 020 7211 1553



    Postgraduate Medical Deans



    NHS Education for Scotland, Thistle House, 91 Haymarket Terrace, Edinburgh, EH12 5HE.
    Tel: 0131 225 4365
    Email: [email protected]

    Northern Ireland

    Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency, Beechill House, 42 Beechill Road, Belfast, BT8 7RL.
    Tel: 02890 400000
    Email: [email protected]


    Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education, Cardiff University, 8th and 9th Floors, Neuadd Meirionnydd, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4YS.
    Email: [email protected]



    Royal College of Anaesthetists, Churchill House, 35 Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4SG.
    Tel: 020 7092 1500
    Fax: 020 7092 1730
    Email: [email protected]

    Royal College of General Practitioners, 14 Princes Gate, Hyde Park, London, SW7 1PU.
    Tel: 020 3188 7400
    Fax: 020 3188 7401
    Email: [email protected]

    Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 27 Sussex Place, Regents Park, London, NW1 4RG.
    Tel: 020 7772 6200
    Fax: 020 7723 0575

    Royal College of Ophthalmologists, 17 Cornwall Terrace, London, NW1 4QW.
    Tel: 020 7935 0702
    Fax: 020 7935 9838

    Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, 50 Hallam Street, London, W1W 6DE.
    Tel: 020 7307 5600
    Fax: 020 7307 5601
    Email: [email protected]

    Royal College of Pathologists, 2 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AF.
    Tel: 020 7451 6700
    Email: [email protected]

    Royal College of Physicians, 11 St Andrew's Place, Regents Park, London, NW1 4LE.
    Tel: 020 7935 1174
    Fax: 020 7487 5218
    Email: [email protected]

    Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, 234-242 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5RJ.
    Tel: 0141 221 6072
    Fax: 0141 221 1804

    Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, 9 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JQ.
    Tel: 0131 225 7324
    Fax: 0131 220 3939

    Royal College of Psychiatrists, 17 Belgrave Square, London, SW1X 8PG.
    Tel: 020 7235 2351 Fax: 020 7245 1231
    Email: [email protected]

    Royal College of Radiologists, 63 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3JW.
    Tel: 020 7405 1282
    Email: [email protected]

    Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DW.
    Tel: 0131 527 1600
    Fax: 0131 557 6406
    Email: [email protected]

    Royal College of Surgeons of England, 35-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3PE.
    Tel: 020 7405 3474



    Scottish Government Health Directorates, St Andrews House, Regent Road, Edinburgh, EH1 3DG.



    UK Border Agency (UKBA)
    Tel: 0870 606 7766

    UK Visas



    Wellbeing support services - available 24 hours, 7 days a week
    Tel: 0330 123 1245
    Find out more


    Other sources of help

    In this guide we have concentrated on basic information to help new doctors coming to the UK to establish themselves professionally. When you move to a new country you also have to cope with many changes in your personal and social life.

    You may need information about schools, housing, leisure activities, etc. Such topics are beyond the scope of this guide, but the British Council should be able to give you some information before and after you come to the UK.

    We also recommend that you contact a local branch of the Citizens Advice Bureau, or the staff in your local public library for help once you have arrived. Furthermore, some of the regional postgraduate deaneries produce useful guides for overseas doctors working in their region.