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Working in the United Kingdom

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This article has been kindly written by Dr Calathur Nanda Kumar, a consultant anaesthetist with an interest in advising overseas doctors on how to gain work in the United Kingdom. Dr Kumar also provides advice on this topic in our discussion forum.

Working in the UK

What are your prospects of obtaining a job in the UK? Read the GMC website for more information here.

To determine what kind of registration you are eligible for, you should read the GMC flow chart.

If you are from the European Union, you are eligible for Full Registration with the GMC. Member states are outlined by the GMC here.

Applicants from outside the European Union

To work in the UK, you need to be registered with the General Medical Council. To register with the GMC, you need to have passed the PLAB (Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board) Test or obtain exemption for the PLAB test.  

Taking the PLAB Test

To obtain guidance for the PLAB Test, candidates should consult the following link.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

The IELTS is jointly managed by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL), British Council and IDP Education Australia: IELTS Australia. This organisation will help you to demonstrate your proficiency in English. Read more >> 

Obtaining exemption from PLAB Test

To see if you qualify for Royal College Sponsorship (thereby PLAB exemption), you can apply under the ODTS scheme. If you have passed the PLAB Test (or have been exempted from the PLAB Test) then you will need to consider the following: 

Starting to work in the UK

You need to find a job. This can be a Training Post or a Non-Training Post (see finding work below). 

Obtaining a training post

You need to have passed PLAB or obtained exemption from PLAB.

MMC (Modernising Medical Careers)

Please be aware of the changes in the Training scheme in the UK. Your eligibility to apply for Training Posts is significantly affected by these recent changes. These changes are include all UK graduates having to undergo the Foundation Programme.  

If you have PLAB exemption due to Royal College Sponsorship you can apply under the ODTS scheme.

Further reading

The Yorkshire Deanery Handbook (word document) contains very useful information for all overseas trainees and is well worth a read.  

Non-Training Posts

Most non-training posts need Full Registration with GMC. There are some posts like Trust Doctors, which may not need Full Registration with GMC. Read more >>

Finding work – useful links

Home Office Guidance

If you are currently outside the United Kingdom, you may need to apply for entry clearance before you travel. The entry clearance process for the United Kingdom is run by UK visas through the British diplomatic posts around the world. Read more about this using the following guidance from the Home Office.

If you want to work in the United Kingdom, you should check that your status allows you to do so before taking up employment. Not everyone who comes to the UK is allowed to work. You can check if you are allowed to work by looking at the stamp in your passport.
Read more about this using the following guidance from the Home Office.  

Obtaining a permit free period of training

After securing a Training Post, the Post Graduate Dean needs to give a letter confirming that you have a Training Post (more than 3 months duration) so that the Home Office can issue the PFT Visa 

Obtaining a work permit?

A work Permit is generally given to people who are taking up non-training posts and it has to be applied for by the Employer on behalf of the Employee. Read more here >>

Other visas 

HSMP (Highly Skilled Migrant Programme) Read more here >>

Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board (PMETB)

PMETB is the independent statutory body, responsible for overseeing and promoting the development of postgraduate medical education and training for all specialties, including general practice, across the UK. PMETB assumed its statutory powers on 30 September 2005 taking over the responsibilities of the Specialist Training Authority of the Medical Royal Colleges and the Joint Committee on Postgraduate Training for General Practice.

This site is useful for overseas doctors and can be found clicking here.  

Department of Health Guide to Immigration and Employment for Overseas Doctors and Dentists

The information in this guide is a broad statement of the effect of the Immigration Rules, including recent changes to them. Read the full guide here in pdf format >> 


This is only a brief summary of coming to UK to work or train. More detailed information about working in the UK is available on the included links and overall guidance is available on ODTA-UK (Overseas Doctors’ Training in Anaesthesia-UK).  Using the ODTA-UK site you can also get information about direct entry for senior and experienced doctors.  
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