Section 1: Information about the writer

Dr Mustafa Ibrahim GP ST3, Wolverhampton VTS, west midlands.


Explaining some terminologies In this document:

GP practice: can have different meanings depending on the context; may refer to either the clinical daily activities performed by general practitioners or the location where GPs are based on (the GP clinic or GP surgery).

GP surgery: This is the location of the GP practice, in other words the clinic. It has nothing to do with the surgical specialty in the hospital.

Primary care: The health services provided in the community, i.e outside the hospital, for people making an initial approach to a medical practitioner or clinic for advice or treatment.

Most GPs work in primary care.

VTS: stands for vocational training scheme, this is the GP training, it is also classically used by trainees referring to the weekly formal GP teaching.

Section 2: Scope of Practice in the UK:

General practice specialty training (GPST) is the largest training in the UK (1 in 4 trainees in the UK are doing GP training).


GPST is the route to become a GP in the UK and enter the GMC GP register. The standard route for most trainees is through certificate of completion of training (CCT) which will be discussed in this document. The usual duration of the CCT is 3 years but it can be 4 years in some parts of the UK. As a fully qualified GP your job involves primarily providing the initial contact with the patients registered in your practice, providing follow up and referring them to specialist care when appropriate. The initial contact is usually via 10 minute appointments along with home visits for some patients e.g the housebound patients.

If you are a trainer, your job will also involve supervising GP registrars and foundation doctors working in general practice.


Section 3: Type of training/ Route to training

It is a run through specialty programme usually consisting of 18 month hospital rotations and 18 months general practice rotation.

The three year specialty training program for general practice also includes taking the MRCGP examination. (One written and one clinical exams)


Section 4: Sub-Specialties

After the CCT there are number of opportunities of doing post CCT fellowship (e.g in primary care research fellowship, acute care fellowship etc.

GPwSI (GP with special interest) is another form of post CCT qualification done through courses and proposals. There is no restricted list of what special interests a GP can do (e.g special interest in ophthalmology, dermatology, gynaecology, endocrinology etc) it depends on the local area need and the available funds by the clinical commissioning group (the body that commission primary care funds)

Section 5: Application Process

Applications to join a GP training program in the UK are made through the National Recruitment Office (NRO).

It is an online application via Oriel. You will need to create an account on the Oriel recruitment system before you can apply


Dates of application: like most other specialty training programs in the UK the first post starts on the first week of august. The application opens in the preceding November and closes at the beginning of December the year before (e.g for specialty training year one starting in august 2017, the first stage of application starts in November 2016 and closes by 1st December 2016. There is a plan for twice yearly uptake (posts starting in February as well as August) but details are yet to be clarified by the recruitment center.


Section 6: Requirements To Get Into Training (Person Specification)

  • MBBS or equivalent medical qualification
  • Full GMC registration with licence to practice, or expected to be registered before the start date (e.g just passed PLAB 2)
  • Be eligible to work in the UK (If no automatic work permit, you can get a certificate of Sponsorship from the deanery to apply for tier 2 visa.
  • Have evidence of either:
  1. current employment in a foundation programme in the UK or:
  2. 12 months’ experience after full GMC registration or equivalent, and evidence of achievement of foundation competences in the three years preceding the intended start date from a UK foundation programme or equivalent.  (I will explain about the foundation competence later.)
  • Have a driving licence that allows you to drive in the UK (don’t panic if you don’t have one, in that case you would need to write a letter confirming that you will undertake responsibility for your own transport during your training including transport for home visits whilst in general practice rotation). I personally did not have a driving licence when I applied for GP training so I did this letter and it worked.
  • Advanced Life Support Certificate from the Resuscitation Council UK or equivalent (as required to complete Foundation competences) by intended start date
  • Evidence of English language skill (I will explain in detail later about this).
The foundation competences:

You will prove this by one of four options:

  • Currently on a Foundation Programme – if you are undertaking a recognised foundation programme in the UK[1] which is due to finish in August 2017, we will ask you to confirm the name of your Foundation School. You do not need to do anything else.  You do not need to submit any evidence.  Any offer of a programme will be conditional upon you successfully completing the Foundation Programme and being awarded an FPCC before August 2017.  If you are undertaking a trust foundation year 2 post this will not be considered as a foundation program but you can use it to provide Alternative Certificate as detailed below.
  • Already completed a Foundation Programme – if you have already completed a UK Foundation Programme within the last 3 years (since 1 January 2014), you will be OK.
  • Already in Specialty Training – if you are already in specialty training and have a National Training Number (NTN) or Deanery Reference Number (DRN), you will be deemed to have had your foundation competence assessed at the point of entry to specialty training and therefore will not be required to provide any further evidence
  • Anybody who is not covered above – if you have not undertaken a UK Foundation Programme within the last 3 years and are not already in specialty training, you will be able to submit an Alternative Certificate signed by a consultant who has supervised you for at least 3 continuous months since 1 August 2014. The certificate confirms your achievement of the required Foundation Professional Capabilities.  You can submit more than one Alternative Certificate from different posts in order to show evidence of achievement of all professional capabilities but all certificates must relate to posts undertaken for at least 3 continuous months since August 2014.  You will scan and upload the certificate during application and then you will be expected to provide the original document/s at a later date. In addition to this 3 month period of foundation competence you need to have had 12 months experience after full GMC registration or equivalent (e.g. permanent Sudanese medical council registration). This 12 months experience has to either be in a post approved for medical education (e.g. in a teaching hospital under supervision) or you should have worked in a non-private hospital in at least two specialties with acute medical responsibilities.
  • If you are unable to provide any of the above because, for example, you have not worked within the last 3 years, then you are advised to start with a job in the UK to get the foundation competence (e.g. foundation post or an SHO post) before applying for GP training (or any other specialty training programme indeed).

quick-tip-e1366327676423NB:good news in the horizon for 2017 applications, Applicants who unable to demonstrate foundation competency during the recruitment round will be offered an opportunity to apply for Foundation GP posts. These programmes will be either six or twelve months in length, will provide experience in primary care and will provide successful applicants with an “Alternative Certificate to Foundation Competence”.



The Evidence of English language skill
  • The evidence required by the GPST application is what is required by the GMC for registration which is in this link:

  • You can either provide:
  1. Academic IELTS score of 7.5 with a minimum score of 7 in each skill (same as for PLAB1)
  2. If you graduated less than 2 years ago from a medical school where you were taught solely in English, you can provide an original letter with number of other limitations. However, the GMC made it clear that it would not accept letters from number universities across the world including most of the medical colleges in SudanL.
  3. If you currently work in an English speaking country, you can provide a letter from all your employers over the last 2 years outlining your English language capabilities. In this case you would need to download and signs a statement in the GMC website to declare that you have never taken the IELTS test before.
  4. If you have an offer of employment from a UK hospital and they are satisfied with your English language capability and happy to complete an English language reference form (this might be more appropriate if you did an attachment in a UK hospital and luckily got a job there.
  5. All above seem dooming and tough? The GMC also stated they can accept other evidences in their discretion which leaves some hope, I presume if your IELTS has expired but you have been practicing in an English speaking country for example you can provide a reference from your employers/consultants confirming your capability. I did not have a valid IELTS when I applied for GPST and a letter from my UK consultant did the job.

quick-tip-e1366327676423Otherwise, if you are not practicing in an English speaking country, don’t waste your time chasing forms, get the IELTS sorted..


Section 7: Important CV/Portfolio Perks (How To Achieve Them)

In the application form you will be expected to demonstrate your career progression since your graduations, anything like audit, research courses etc will help. Prepare to write in the application form about why you chose to do general practice. If you have experience of working in community, mention it.

Section 8: The Interview

The selection is of three stages:

  • Stage one:  simply the online application which is via oriel as mentioned above.
  • Stage two: called MSRA (Multispecialty recruitment assessment): is a written computerised exam which includes clinical questions comparative to PLAB one in its difficulty and situational judgement questions. There are overseas centres outside the UK where you can take this exam.

From 2016/2017, if you score very high in stage2 processe, you will be given ‘direct pathway’ which means you will be guaranteed a training post by-passing stage 3. If you require Tier 2 visa, you will still be offered the direct pathway but you will wait until all the UK/EU nationals are given a job. Having said that if you look at the competition ratios for GPST below, it literally means these jobs will not be saturated by the UK/EU citizens. So you will guarantee a job even with Tier2 visa if you achieved a direct pathway score. It will be a matter of time.

  • Stage 3 (will be at the selection center): this consists of 2 parts in the same day:
  1.  Part 1: is a structured 3 different consultations with role players (one acting as a patient, one acting as a colleague and one acting as a patient’s relative) these are 10 minutes consultations and all focus on communication; no history, no examination.
  2. Part 2: is a written part: will require some prioritisation or ranking of issues and a justification of your responses. The time allowed for the written exercise is 30 minutes


Section 9: Competition Ratio

For round 1 in 2016 the highest competition ratio was in London deanery 1.8 and the lowest was in the North East deanery (only 0.7) which is good news if you want to apply for GP as it means you are very likely to get the training post if you have the minimum required criteria and scored the required minimum score in the assessment.


Section 10: Offers and Visa Issues and HEE

The certificate of sponsorship for Tier 2 visa is issued by the deanery for 3 years which means you don’t need to worry about re-applying for a new visa throughout your training.


Section 11: Specialty Exams

There is no membership qualification required to apply for GP. Whilst in GP you will be required to complete the Royal College of general practitioners exams, these are 2 exams.

  • Written exam: called applied knowledge test AKT, theoretical knowledge questions exam that you can either take in ST2 or ST3 year of training. Majority of trainees pass from first attempt.
  • Structured exam: similar to the PACES exam in other specialties. This is called clinical skills assessment CSA exam. Again majority of GP trainees pass eventually. You can have up to 4 attempts.


Section 12: Speciality Courses

To be Continued.

Section 13: Rotations

Usually 3 year rotation, 18 months in hospital and 18 months in general practice, the first year is usually in hospital and the last year is usually in general practice, the middle year is split in between.

Most of the time all the hospital rotations will be in the same hospital. The first 6 month of general practice rotation is in a different practice to the last year rotation but both will be in the same area.


Section 14: Ranking of Deaneries

To be confirmed.

Section 15: Wages / Take Home Cash

During your training your salary will range between 28,000 to 33,000 pound a year with 45 to 50% banding (for simplicity you will go home with around 2,500 pound a month after tax). After your training your salary will jump to 75 -100 thousand pounds a year depending on the contract and number of hours. In summary, GP trainees’ salaries are comparable to their rivals in other specialties whilst GPs earn higher than hospital consultants.


Section 16: MTI

To be confirmed

Section 17: Experience of Sudanese Doctors (Personal Experience)

To be continued.

Section 18: Important Links and Websites

To be continued.

Disclaimer Button

Although the information contained on this guide should be fairly accurate, and every effort has been made to check Its details. However, it is possible that some errors have been missed or that some information may have been revised. The information provided by this website are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication.