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Information for Doctors
Registration with the British General Medical Council
The General Medical Council (GMC) is the regulator of the medical profession in the United Kingdom. Doctors who wish to practice in the UK must be registered. They have the power to revoke the licence, or place restrictions, in cases of questions about a doctor's fitness to practice.
The purpose of the GMC is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the community by ensuring proper standards in the practice of medicine. They liaise with other nations' medical and university regulatory bodies over medical schools overseas, leading to some qualifications being mutually recognised. The Council is funded by annual fees required from those wishing to remain registered and fees for examinations.
You need to be registered with the GMC if you wish to practice medicine in the UK. The activities that require GMC registration include:
- working as a doctor in the National Health Service (NHS) or in private practice
- prescribing drugs, the sale of which is restricted by law
- signing certificates required for statutory purposes (death certificates, etc.)
Who can register?
Your eligibility for registration with the GMC and the process for gaining registration generally depends on the place where you obtained your primary medical qualification, your nationality, and the nature and extent of your postgraduate experience.
Types of registrationYou must ensure that your registration is appropriate for the type of post or practice that you will be undertaking.
- Provisional registration
- Full registration
- Specialist registration
- GP registration
Provisional registration allows newly qualified doctors to undertake the general clinical training needed for full registration. A doctor who is provisionally registered is entitled to work only in Foundation Year 1 (F1) posts in hospitals or institutions that are approved for the purpose of Foundation Year 1 (F1) service.
Provisional registration is available to doctors with the following nationality, rights and qualifications:
- UK medical graduates who have completed their medical degree at a UK University recognised in the Medical Act 1983
- International medical graduates who have an acceptable primary medical qualification and who have passed the PLAB test but who have not completed an internship
- Nationals from the EEA, Switzerland and other countries with EC rights who qualified outside of the EEA and Switzerland
- Nationals from the EEA, Switzerland and doctors who have EC rights who qualified at EEA or Swiss medical schools
- Doctors who have qualified in an EEA member state can apply to do their practical training (internship) in the UK if the practical training counts towards a medical degree which requires this for compliance with Directive 2005/36/EC.
You need full registration for unsupervised medical practice in the NHS or private practice in the UK. Generally speaking, doctors who have undertaken a satisfactory period of experience under provisional registration may apply to move to full registration. Some doctors qualifying from outside the UK may be eligible to apply directly for full registration:
- EEA and Swiss nationals and other doctors with EC rights who graduated at EEA or Swiss medical schools
- Only doctors holding all the titles of diplomas, certificates and other evidence of formal qualifications in medicine listed in Annex V of the Directive 2005/36/EC will benefit fully from EU legislation on mutual recognition.
- Nationals from the EEA, Switzerland and other doctors with EC rights who qualified outside of the EEA and Switzerland
Doctors applying through this route must have completed a 12 month internship undertaken in a resident medical capacity in posts approved for internship training.
International Medical Graduates (IMGs) who have completed an internship
IMGs applying for full registration must hold an acceptable primary medical qualification and will be required to submit evidence that they have satisfactorily completed either Foundation Year 1 in the UK or a period of clinical experience that provides an acceptable foundation for future practice as a fully registered medical practitioner.
In addition, they will be required to demonstrate their medical knowledge and skills in one of the following ways:
- A pass in the PLAB test
- Possession of an acceptable postgraduate qualification
- Eligibility for entry in the specialist or GP register
- IMGs new to full registration and taking up a new job (except for those eligible for entry in the specialist or GP register) will be required to work initially in an approved practice setting.
- IMGs who meet the criteria for full registration will not be eligible for provisional registration.
The GMC maintains a specialist register. Since 1 January 1997 it has been a legal requirement that, in order to take up a consultant post (other than a locum consultant appointment) in a medical or surgical specialty in the NHS a doctor must be included in the specialist register.
The only exceptions are doctors who held a consultant post (other than a locum consultant post) in oral and maxillo-facial surgery in the NHS immediately before 1 January 1997.
It is not possible to hold specialist registration without also holding full registration.
Since 1 April 2006, all doctors working in general practice in the health service in the UK - other than doctors in training such as GP Registrars - are required to be on the GP Register.
How to register
To apply for registration, you will need to visit the GMC website to find out which registration route you should take.