Experiences of non-UK-qualified doctors working within the UK regulatory framework: a qualitative study

J R Soc Med. 2012 Apr;105(4):157-65. doi: 10.1258/jrsm.2011.110256. Epub 2012 Mar 9.


Objective: To explore the experience of non-UK-qualified doctors in working within the regulatory framework of the General Medical Council (GMC) document Good Medical Practice.

Design: Individual interviews and focus groups.

Setting: United Kingdom.

Participants: Non-UK-qualified doctors who had registered with the GMC between 1 April 2006 and 31 March 2008, doctors attending training/induction programmes for non-UK-qualified doctors, and key informants involved in training and support for non-UK-qualified doctors.

Main outcome measures: Themes identified from analysis of interview and focus group transcripts.

Results: Information and support for non-UK qualified doctors who apply to register to work in the UK has little reference to the ethical and professional standards required of doctors working in the UK. Recognition of the ethical, legal and cultural context of UK healthcare occurs once doctors are working in practice. Non-UK qualified doctors reported clear differences in the ethical and legal framework for practising medicine between the UK and their country of qualification, particularly in the model of the doctor-patient relationship. The degree of support for non-UK-qualified doctors in dealing with ethical concerns is related to the type of post they work in. European doctors describe similar difficulties with working in an unfamiliar regulatory framework to their non-European colleagues.

Conclusions: Non-UK-qualified doctors experience a number of difficulties related to practising within a different ethical and professional regulatory framework. Provision of information and educational resources before registration, together with in-practice support would help to develop a more effective understanding of GMP and its implications for practice in the UK.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Competence / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Foreign Medical Graduates / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Foreign Medical Graduates / standards
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician's Role
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Physicians / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Physicians / standards
  • Professional Practice / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Professional Practice / standards
  • Social Perception
  • United Kingdom