An international doctor is some one who, regardless of where they obtained their primary medical qualification, does not have the right of indefinite residence or is not settled in the UK (as determined by immigration and nationality law).
This definition includes doctors who have received a primary medical qualification from a UK university and completed their foundation training but who do not have settled status or right of indefinite residence. ‘Settled status’ means you have indefinite leave to remain in the UK in prescribed circumstances.
Some international doctors may be entitled to settled status in the UK, for example, those who are married to a British citizen or who have at least one grandparent born in the UK.
Registering with the General Medical Council
All doctors need to register with the General Medical Council (GMC) before undertaking direct patient care.
Doctors with EEA or Swiss primary medical qualifications
European Economic Area (EEA) nationals no longer benefit from automatic recognition of professional qualifications. There are also changes for UK doctors who want to work in the EEA. The EEA includes all countries within the EU as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. You can find out more information about changes for EEA doctors on the General Medical Council’s website.
The registration process for some with non-UK qualifications has changed as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. The type of application and evidence needed for registration depends on your medical qualifications, rather than nationality. See the GMC website for further information.
Doctors with EEA or Swiss primary medical qualifications who are already working in the UK
Now that the UK transition period has ended, the registration status of doctors from the EEA with provisional or full registration in the UK won’t be affected.
Doctors without EEA or Swiss primary medical qualifications
If you’re an international doctor, you can join the UK Specialist Register by applying for a Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR). This proves you’ve undertaken training equivalent to that undertaken by a UK Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) holder.
Support for Refugees
Doctors on the British Medical Association (BMA) refugee doctors’ database who have passed a postgraduate examination in ophthalmology are eligible to apply. This status lasts for one year.
We offer the following support for refugee ophthalmologists
- Free entry to the RCOphth Annual Congress. Once the RCOphth is satisfied with your proof of status, you’ll be notified about the registration process for Congress
- Free access to the RCOphth scientific journal EYE and CPD system for one year
- Access to attend one Microsurgical Skills Course. This is dependent on you having a suitable level of experience and on the availability of places. RCOphth reserves the right to interview applicants to assess their suitability for assistance and attendance at the Microsurgical Skills Course
After the agreed year has finished, we will be unable to help further through this scheme. If you fulfil the appropriate criteria, you may be able to apply to become a RCOphth member. You can find out more from Membership Services.
Please note that refugee ophthalmologists are not entitled to use the RCOphth post-nominal initials (MRCOphth) during this time. MRCOphth can only be used by those who have passed the relevant examination.
Unfortunately, the RCOphth does not have the resources to assist refugee doctors with GMC registration.
If you have any questions about RCOphth registered refugee ophthalmologist status, including assistance, please email [email protected].
Joining the UK training programme
Permit-free training in the UK was withdrawn in March 2006, which means it is not possible to get a training post as an international trainee if there is a suitable EEA graduate available. This has made it much more difficult for international trainees to get UK training posts.
The GMC website provides advice for international medical graduates about their options, as well as information about the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test.
Information for International Medical Graduates (IMGs) on Ophthalmic Training in the UK
Overview on IMG training in the UK in Ophthalmology
The International Medical Graduates Training Sub-committee oversees two schemes to assist IMGs in their training ambitions in the UK – the Dual Sponsorship Scheme and the Tier 5 Support Scheme. In addition, general advice concerning training in the UK is available from the Education and Training Department for ‘trained’ ophthalmologists who are IMGs.
If you are interested in applying to the General Medical Council for entry on to the Specialist Register in ophthalmology please click here for more information.