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May 14, 2024

8 Min Read

BAPIO x TERN Opens Doors for Indian Doctors to the UK

The United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS) faces a crisis— A critical shortage of doctors burdens the entire healthcare system, resulting in lengthy patient wait times and immense pressure on existing staff. 

According to BMA analysis of OECD data, the UK needs nearly 50,000 additional FTE doctors simply to achieve an equivalent standard with the OECD average of 3.7 doctors per 1,000 people.

Total number of permanent doctors in England


Despite the grim appearance of the situation, there is a silver lining for experienced International Medical Graduates (IMGs), especially senior doctors from India.

The demand for skilled doctors makes the UK a highly attractive destination, especially for medical professionals seeking to launch their careers abroad for career progression. However, for IMGs, entry into the NHS often involves navigating the complex process of General Medical Council (GMC) registration.

What is GMC Registration?

The GMC registration process is mandatory for medical graduates working in the UK healthcare system. It ensures that doctors meet the necessary standards of competence, professionalism, and ethical conduct required to practise medicine safely in the UK.

Traditionally, to get GMC registrations, you either have to pass MRCP or PLAB (to be replaced by MLA starting 2024-25) or have recognised postgraduate qualifications. While these qualifications are undoubtedly valuable, they can be lengthy and demanding, especially for seasoned doctors with extensive experience. 

But, here’s the good news— thanks to the partnership between BAPIO and TERN, doctors from India now have a streamlined pathway to GMC registration, bypassing the complexities of the traditional route. 

We’ll talk more about the partnership later on, but first, let’s take a closer look at the conventional route.

What is the usual path of GMC Registration for IMGs from India?

Historically, the most common route for IMGs has been the PLAB (Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board) assessment, soon to be replaced by the UKMLA (UK Medical Licensing Assessment). Additionally, you could pursue speciality training programs such as the Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians (MRCP), Fellowship of the Royal College of Radiologists (FRCR), or equivalent qualifications in other medical specialties to qualify to work as medical professionals in the UK.

Now, here's the catch: both these routes, while proven ways to get GMC registration, can be lengthy and stressful, especially for experienced doctors. The entire process can take as long as 6-9 months! That's a long wait for someone who's already qualified and could be making a real difference in the UK healthcare system!

For example, if you take the PLAB route, here’s what the typical timeline looks like:

Timeline of PLAB test for GMC registration

And that’s not all. If you go the MRCP route, PACES (Practical Assessment of Clinical Examination Skills) - often referred to as MRCP Part 2 Clinical - can be notoriously difficult to schedule, with only four exam sessions held each year. With just nine centres in India offering the test, scheduling can significantly lengthen your registration timeline, adding frustration to the process.

Plus, these specialty exams are infamous for their difficulty. The overall pass rate for the MRCP PACES 2022/3 exam was 49%! Passing them requires dedicated study and specific preparation, which can be quite challenging for experienced doctors whose expertise might be in a different area.

Let's not forget one of the biggest hurdles—securing a job in the NHS with a visa sponsorship. This can be extremely stressful, especially without proper guidance or professional links. And if you’re planning to shift with your family, it adds another layer of complexity. Doing it all alone can be overwhelming for experienced doctors who may not have recent UK experience.

This is where the BAPIO-TERN Partnership emerges as a game-changer. 

What is the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin?

The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO Institute) is a prominent professional organisation representing physicians of Indian origin working in the healthcare sector in the United Kingdom. Established in 1996, BAPIO has come a long way in promoting diversity, equality, and inclusion within the healthcare profession. 

With its initial aim of supporting international medical graduates, BAPIO has grown in stature and influence to become one of the largest organisations of its type in the country. BAPIO aims to support and advocate for the interests of physicians and healthcare workers of Indian heritage, making it easier for them to practise in the UK through initiatives like the TERN program.

It gained prominence through its pivotal role in a landmark BAPIO Supreme Court case, which exposed the inherent inequality, secured the rights of IMGs to GMC sponsorship, and paved the way for its Fast-Track Programme. It is one of the few associations among the largest organisations that can sponsor GMC Registration.

BAPIO recognized for sponsoring by the GMC

What is the BAPIO-TERN Fast Track Programme? 

The BAPIO-TERN Fast-Track Programme is a collaborative initiative between the two organisations, aimed at providing a streamlined pathway for Indian doctors to obtain GMC registration and kickstart their careers in the UK healthcare system. It cuts through the red tape and makes getting your GMC registration faster and smoother. This means less time studying and more time practising what you do best – medicine!

Here's a breakdown of the programme:

Three-Month Program in India: Conveniently delivered in India, the program equips you with the necessary skills and knowledge within a concise timeframe.

Comprehensive Curriculum: The curriculum covers everything you need, from technical evaluations to leadership skills and even effective communication. Plus, you'll get support with cultural integration, making the transition to the UK healthcare system a breeze.

GMC Certification and Visa: Upon successful completion, you receive a coveted GMC certification, a stepping stone to your UK NHS career. The program also facilitates obtaining a skilled worker visa.

Seamless Integration and Ongoing Growth: This program doesn't stop at getting you registered. You'll also participate in a 1-2 year program at a partner university alongside your full-time NHS job. Think of it as continuous learning and practical experience to ensure you thrive throughout your UK medical career.

Here’s a quick glance at the BAPIO-TERN fast-track programme process.

BAPIO-TERN Fast-Track Programme Process

Benefits of the BAPIO x TERN Fast-Track Programme

Being a part of the BAPIO x TERN Fast-Track Programme offers a multitude of benefits, including:

Fast-Track to UK Practice:

As we discussed above, the traditional path to GMC registration can be lengthy and demanding. The BAPIO x TERN program streamlines the process, enabling you to gain the necessary qualifications and authorization (Tier-2 visa) to work in the UK NHS within a shorter time frame. This allows you to start making a real difference in patient care sooner.

Enhanced Skills and Knowledge:

The program goes beyond just registration. The curriculum is specifically designed to equip you with the essential skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the UK healthcare system. From technical evaluations to leadership assessments, and effective patient communication, the program ensures you're well-prepared to excel in your new role.

Smooth Integration:

Transitioning to a new healthcare system can be challenging. The BAPIO x TERN program provides invaluable guidance and support to ensure smooth cultural and professional integration. You'll receive support in understanding NHS policies and procedures, adapting your clinical approach, and honing your communication skills for effective patient interaction.

Career Advancement Opportunities:

The BAPIO x TERN program prioritises your continuous professional development. This commitment extends beyond the initial program. You'll have access to ongoing opportunities to learn, refine your skills, and stay current with advancements in the UK healthcare system, paving the way for a successful and rewarding career path.

Now that we have discussed the benefits of the programme, the next step is understanding the eligibility criteria and application process.

Eligibility Criteria — Joining the BAPIO x TERN Programme

To ensure a seamless application process for the BAPIO x TERN Fast-Track Programme, you must meet specific eligibility criteria:

  • Hold a valid MD/DNB or equivalent medical degree.
  • Have a minimum of five years of clinical experience.
  • Maintain continuous clinical engagement without gaps in the past year.

Building Your UK Healthcare Career with TERN and BAPIO Training Academy

Your journey to a rewarding career in the UK NHS doesn't have to be a solitary endeavour. Through our exclusive partnership with BAPIO and the National Skills Development Council of India, TERN is committed to streamlining your path every step of the way. Here's how our collaboration empowers Indian doctors:

Dedicated Support: Our dedicated team at TERN will provide personalised guidance throughout your application process for the BAPIO x TERN Fast-Track Programme. We'll ensure you have the information and resources you need to navigate each step with confidence.

Seamless Visa & Relocation: Apart from working closely with you for your visa application, we also arrange travel, accommodation and essential local services like bank accounts to ensure a smooth transition to your new life and career in the UK.

Career Guidance & Job Opportunities: Our online platform offers a powerful matchmaking tool. Based on your qualifications and career goals, we'll connect you with personalised job matches within the NHS.  We focus on finding reputable NHS employers who are a perfect fit for your expertise and career aspirations.

Don't wait to turn your UK dreams into reality. Get in touch to know how TERN can help you find healthcare jobs in the UK.

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