Who are the GMC?

By Gemma Raw

The General Medical Council, known in the medical community as the GMC, is the independent regulator for doctors in the UK. The GMC’s role is to protect patients and improve medical practice and education by setting the standards for student and qualified doctors. As a regulatory body, the GMC also investigate any complaints. Today, there are over 348,000 doctors on its books and if you want to work as a doctor in the UK, you must register with the GMC.

Joining the GMC register

Doctors who practice medicine in the UK are legally required to hold registration. Essentially, the GMC medical register is an online list of doctors in the UK. It gives the type of registration a doctor holds, their training and other information. It is one of the ways that UK employers, including the NHS, checks to see if you are safe to work as a doctor. Before you join the register, the GMC will need to check your identity, qualifications and experience. Other checks are made too, including contacting your previous employers to discover whether they had any concerns about your ability.

There are four types of registration that enable doctors to the work in different jobs in the UK and these are:

Provisional registration

This is for doctors working in approved UK Foundation Year 1 posts (those fresh out of university). It cannot be used for any other reason.

Full registration

To work on either an unsupervised basis or as doctor in your second year of the Foundation Programme, you will need a full registration. To be eligible for full registration, you must meet at least one of the criteria below:

  • Have completed the first year of the Foundation Programme.

  • Have graduated with an approved primary medical qualification from outside the UK or Switzerland. Plus, you must also prove you have the right amount of clinical experience to practise in the UK.

  • Be a Swiss or UK national and have a formal qualification listed on the GMC Professional Qualifications Directive. Or you can have an acceptable primary medical qualification from outside the EEA with evidence of experience.

Specialist registration

If you are planning on taking up a consultant role in a medical or surgical speciality, you must join the GMC’s specialist register. There are lots of different ways you can join the specialist register and these can be explored by visiting the GMC’s website.

GP registration

All doctors working in General Practice (GP) in the UK must be on the GP register as well as a GP performers’ list. The performer’s list is an approved list of GPs, opticians and dentists who satisfy a range of criteria to work in the NHS.

What does GMC registration cost?

All doctors must pay a fee to register with the GMC as well as a yearly fee to stay on the register - the annual registration fee is £408. If you are a newly-qualified doctor (having passed a primary medical qualification within the last five years) you may qualify for the discounted full registration fee of £157.

There are additional GMC fees for specialist and GP registration, which are listed on the GMC website. These are for various certifications and proof of eligibility.

What will I need to do to stay on the GMC register?

To maintain your registration, you will also need to prove that you meet the GMC requirements for keeping your skills and knowledge up-to-date. This process is called revalidation, which must be completed every five years. The GMC has made the process as simple as possible and will even alert you four months before your revalidation is due.

For more information about overseas worker requirements, read our collection of blogs.