GMC Registration – What routes are available?
The purpose of this blog article is to provide you with an overview of what the GMC registration process looks like and the various routes to ensuring you have a successful application. We have broken the registration process down into six categories, however please note that each category will be covered in more detail in future articles.
To legally practise medicine in the UK, all Doctors must hold a valid medical license. The licence to practise is issued by the General Medical Council (GMC) and the requirement applies to all Doctors in the UK regardless of whether they work for the NHS or independent sector, are national or international either on a permanent or locum basis. GMC registration will generally cost £425; however, this could fluctuate dependent on your individual circumstance. For instance, if you have held a registration in the past and want to reinstate it, the fee is reduced to £200. Furthermore, an annual retention fee of £425 is also required and this fee can be paid via a one-off payment, quarterly or monthly. It is important to note that further fees may be applicable and a full list of fees can be found here.
The requirements for GMC registration in the UK will depend on a number of factors:
- Your nationality
- The country you gained your primary medical qualification
- Whether you or not you have completed a period of postgraduate training or an internship
As the GMC registration is a lengthy process our first piece of advice is that you visit the GMC website to collate the required documents before you begin the registration process.
These documents include:
- Evidence of your primary medical qualification
- Proof of identity (passport or identity card if it states your nationality)
- Certificates of good standing from any medical regulators you have been registered with in the last five years
- Employer references (and translations of them)
The above documents will need to be sent within twenty-eight days of request otherwise you will be refunded the £425 you initially paid and you will have to restart your process all over again.
We have broken down the GMC registration process into six steps and they are as follows:
- Recognised primary medical qualifications
- English language capability
- Registration and licensing history
- Certificates of Good Standing
- Knowledge and Skills
- ID Check
1. Recognised primary medical qualifications
To be eligible to apply for the GMC registration and/or sit the PLAB test applicants must have passed all the qualifying examinations necessary for obtaining an ‘acceptable overseas qualification’ and a qualification that does not meet the criteria cannot be accepted. A list of what qualifications are recognised by the GMC can be found here.
It is important to note that from 11th June 2018, once your primary medical qualification meets the GMC’s criteria, you will need to have it independently verified before registration with a licence to practise can be granted. Verification will be carried out by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) via their online system being the Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials (EPIC) service.
If you are going to apply for GMC registration with a licence to practise after 11th June 2018, then visit the GMC website for further information on your primary medical qualification being independently verified.
2. English language capability
If you are relocating from a country where English is not the native language then the GMC requires you to sit an English Language test. There are two types of tests available. The first is International English Language Testing System (IELTS) which is an academic version. Or second, you can take the medical version of the Occupational English Test (OET). The GMC only accept IELTS and OET scores that are less than two years old.
IELTS is the most popular language exam for IMG’s. The exam covers the four key language skills in general English: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. Doctors must achieve an overall score of 7.5 (with a score no less than 7.0 in each section of the test). Further information on IELTS can be found on their website at: https://www.ielts.org/.
Often one of the largest obstacles IMG’s experience during their GMC registration can be their score in the IELTS exam. That is why we work with an expert in IELTS preparation, named IELTS Advantage, who will be available to provide you with the help and support needed to allow you to pass the exam. IELTS Advantage offers test preparation guidance and documents with the advantage of studying at home for free. They work with IELTS test markers to give candidates exact feedback, so the candidate then knows what test area to focus on and to improve their score. Further information on this guidance can be found on their website.
On the 8th February 2018 the GMC announced that they would also accept the Occupational English Test (OET) as an alternative test to prove your English language skills.
OET recognise that limited language proficiency is an obstacle to effective communication which affects the quality of care. Thus, OET is designed to replicate the critical tasks of the healthcare workplace setting and the test measures a Doctor’s abilities through the skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking. The score required is four B’s and the scores must be achieved at the same exam sitting.
Currently we are seeing many Doctors who are now attempting OET as they have struggled to reach the required scores within IELTS; however it is too early for us to give a definitive answer as to the pass rate for OET in comparison to IELTS. Nevertheless, we will be collating this information as we go along and we will then be able to advise which test is better once we have the data.
It is also important to note that the OET exam is significantly more expensive than IELTS; it is limited in the number of global test centres and the frequency of exams available.
Further information on the OET exam can be found here.
Sometimes, the GMC accept other evidence of your English language skills and more information on that can be found here.
3. Registration and licencing history
The GMC will require you to give details of your registration or licencing for all medical regulatory authorities that you have practised or held registration or a licence in the past five years.
4. Certificate of Good Standing
You will also need to provide a Certificate of Good Standing (CGS) from each individual medical establishment that you have listed. The GMC have noted on their website that often a CGS can take a while to arrive so ensure you have your CGS before you make your application.
5. Knowledge and Skills
The GMC expect you to possess the relevant knowledge and skills in order to practise in the UK. Therefore you will be expected to have an approved GMC postgraduate qualification.
If you are a European Doctor and you qualified in a European institution then you will automatically hold a recognised GMC postgraduate qualification and therefore able to apply for Specialist Registration and not required to sit the PLAB exam.
However, if your qualification was not achieved in a European institution but has been obtained in the last three years then it is fundamental to note that you will not be required to sit the PLAB exams, but you will still need an approved IELTS score.
Nevertheless, if your postgraduate qualification is on the recognised list but was obtained more than three years ago then you will be required to submit additional evidence to the GMC, which demonstrates that the level of practise you have delivered has continued to be in line with the associated qualification. As previously mentioned, if you are unsure as to whether your qualification is recognised then do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
A list of GMC approved postgraduate qualifications can be found here.
If you do not have a recognised GMC postgraduate qualification then you will have to sit the PLAB exam. PLAB is an English language test that is focused on practicing English in a medical setting.
The test assesses your ability, as a doctor, to work safely as a clinician in a UK NHS hospital. This certificate is broken into 2 exams:
- PLAB Part 1 is a 3 hour long exam with a paper containing 200 single best answer (SBA) questions
- PLAB Part 2 is a 14-station objective structured clinical exam (OSCE)
Before sitting the PLAB exams you must already have successfully completed your IELTS exam, but please do not assume that because you have passed the IELTS, you will pass the PLAB. This test is harder and will more than likely require some study – there are a number of independent companies that can assist you in preparation for the PLAB exams, as well as study resources which can be purchased online. Please speak to your Recruitment Consultant for more information.
6. ID Check
Once all the relevant documents have been submitted to the GMC they will then review your application and inform you if any additional evidence is required. When the GMC are satisfied they will invite you to attend an ID check in person at one of their offices in either London or Manchester. The check can be booked via the same portal used to make your application via the ‘My Appointments’ section.
We advise you to book your ID check as early as possible because typically the dates are booked up a long way in advance and the GMC do not require you to have all your relevant documentation approved first. In addition, the GMC only offer you three months from the moment your application is successful to complete the ID check and then you will need to apply again.
When you arrive at the ID check you will be expected to have your passport and other forms of ID. The GMC may request other documents; however, this information will be provided once you are invited. Once you have arrived they will take an ID photo and a copy of your signature to keep on record. The ID check usually takes around twenty minutes and once it is completed you will be added to the list of registered medical practitioners and officially GMC registered.
Moreover, it has been common for international Doctors to apply for their Visa before coming to the UK for their ID check. This is advantageous because it prevents you from having to fly into the UK more than once and means you can begin looking for accommodation before starting your new role in the NHS.
If you would like more information about the GMC registration, whether your postgraduate qualification is recognised or you would like some advice on taking PLAB then get in touch with us at email@example.com where we will be happy to aid you.