Guide to Working in the UK for Indian Doctors

Why work in the UK?

  1. Similar MBBS curriculum taught in the UK and India (similar textbooks and lecture format), therefore knowledge and skills are transferrable between the two systems. Knowledge and skills gained in India can be applied and developed further in specialized training in a developed country.
  2. Useful support network available for new doctors from India- as over 20,000 doctors from India already practice in the UK. Many organisations and communities are present to help new doctors adjust.
  3. The NHS is considered one of the top healthcare systems in the world and there is high international demand for knowledge and skills acquired by those working in the NHS.
  4. Specialist qualifications gained in the United Kingdom are highly recognized in a wide range of countries (especially India) by health care and public systems. This provides UK doctors with countless opportunities across the world for great career growth.

The NHS currently has over 9000 vacant job roles and are looking to employ talented doctors from abroad. Creating ample opportunity for Indian doctors to work in the NHS and access high-quality education and training, diverse experiences and a good salary. Many opportunities are available for non-UK graduates in general medicine, psychiatry, gynecology, obstetrics and pediatrics.

UK trainees earn between £27,000-£31,000 per annum for a 40-hour week. Trainee specialists earn £37,000 to £47,000. Specialists earn £57,000-£110,000 (or higher as there is no upper limit). General Practitioners earn £78,000-£105,000. There is additional pay for overtime, night shifts, weekend work and on-call allowances (depending on their contract).

How to get a job in the UK?

  1. Pinpoint where your training and skills fit in UK healthcare system.
  2. Decide of career goals in UK- does applicant want to train in the UK or work long term? This will determine the route taken e.g., training schemes provide GMC registration, visa applications but are time limited and require doctors to return to India post training.
  3. Register with the General Medical Council (GMC). 3 types of registration available: provisional registration is only available to doctors completing their first year of foundation training (as a junior doctor). To apply for full registration, overseas doctors need to provide evidence of MBBS degree + at least 1-year internship experience (continuously for 12 months with 3 months in medicine and 3 months in surgery). Valid IELTS certificate (7 in all subject areas and overall score of 7.5) or OET certificate (minimum grade B in all areas). Overseas doctors must also pass the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test. Applicants must apply for GMC registration without 2 years of passing PLAB. Specialist registration- for overseasdoctors who have not completed the UK specialty training posts. Known as the Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR) route. Applicants must provide evidence of experience, skills and knowledge which is assessed by the relevant Royal College to determine if experience is equivalent to current post-graduate qualification. However, evidence can total 1000 pages and take 6-9 months to assess.
  4. Find a job- Doctors will not be allowed to practice in the UK without a full GMC license. Once GMC registration is obtained, a valid license lasts 5 years. Candidates can apply via specialist job websites (e.g., BMJ careers) for permanent or locum work, or apply for Medical training schemes (discussed below). Employers will conduct interviews where candidates will be required to discuss their qualifications, skills, work experience, ethics, clinical audits, research and scenario-based questions (e.g., emergencies).
  5. Apply for visa- tier 2 visa sponsored by employer (training scheme sponsored visas are tier 5). Employers must provide a certificate of sponsorship. Tier 2 visa lasts 5 years. Candidates need to apply for new sponsorship if they change employer/location (doctors on training schemes do not).
  6. Book flights to work in UK.

What does the PLAB test involve?

The PLAB exam tests the applicant’s knowledge and skills to ensure that they are as qualified as a UK 2nd year Foundation doctor.

  1. PLAB part 1- written exam of 180 multiple choice questions (3 hours to complete). Short scenarios followed by a question. This exam can be sat in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi.
  2. PLAB 2- an objective structured clinical exam (OSCE) involving interaction with actors, stimulated mannequins and medical equipment. 18 scenarios for 8 minutes each. This exam aims to reflect real life scenarios. This test has to be completed at the GMC’s clinical assessment center in Manchester, United Kingdom.

Schemes offering training posts:

There are many schemes offering training posts to overseas doctors. The most well-known is the Medical Training Initiative, run by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. Recruitment focuses of suitably qualified, overseas, post graduate medical specialists (who have passed Part 1 membership exams for the Royal College of Physicians while in India). Successful applicants are recruited for a fixed period of training in the UK before returning to the Indian healthcare system.

The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) offer post graduate training programmes in association with Health Education England. The training scheme is offered to applicants who do not have relevant postgraduate training in India. BAPIO offers a route to gain both membership and fellowship in various specialties + leadership training through a combination of posts in both India and the UK for a fixed term (2-4 years).

Most training schemes operate on a time-limited Tier 5 vias (which only lasts 2 years) where Doctors have to return to India at the end of their training.

This is a summary of the BMJ Careers- ‘The Complete Guide to Working in the UK for Indian Doctors’.