Radiology in the UK – Getting in and What to Expect

I have been working as a Consultant in Radiology in the UK for the past 3 years. However, this was not a planned move and happened just by chance. I had successfully finished my FRCR during residency simply for an additional degree. One fine day, I got an email from an agency asking for my CV for a potential job in the UK. One thing led to another, and before I knew it I had given a Skype interview and was offered a job in the next couple of weeks. While I felt great, I had very little idea about what was the work in UK like, and also had a few myths and misconceptions which I hope to clear in this write-up.

PAY: I was of the impression that pay-scale in the UK was very good. Although it sounds good on paper, if you consider the expenses (UK is very expensive) and taxes, the amount you save is way less than what you would earn in say Australia or the US.

QUALITY OF WORK: While studying for FRCR, I always thought that work in UK would be high end and there would be a lot to learn. But work in the UK is fairly basic for most radiologists, and if your objective is to learn (or for that matter earn), UK may not be the right place for you.

ADVANTAGES OF WORKING IN UK: Having said this, there certainly are advantages of working in the UK. The life is relaxed (a 9-5 job for 5 days a week), less litigation worries as compared to States (you are covered by NHS indemnity), and great respect from colleagues.

Pathways of getting Full registration

You need Full registration with License to practice to start working in the UK. It’s a straight forward procedure and can be checked on the GMC (General Medical Council) website (https://www.gmc-uk.org/). It usually takes less than a month to complete. The basic qualification you need for this is either PLAB or FRCR.

FRCR- Completing FRCR is the best and the easiest way of getting into the UK. However, a big barrier is the wait time to get a slot for the final FRCR exam which can be upto 1-2 years. Furthermore, if you fail, you go back to the end of the line and have to wait for another couple of years. So if you have not started the FRCR process and want to apply fast, I would advise that you give PLAB first.

PLAB- Although I have never given PLAB myself, many of my colleagues have given it and apparently its quite straightforward and can be finished in 6-8 months once you get rid of the mental barrier for it. Its more a test of your communication skills and is not supposed to be as difficult as USMLE. Once you finish you PLAB and get a job in the UK, you are exempt from the waiting list for FRCR as an NHS contributor and hence can finish FRCR much faster.

What job can I get

Locum Consultant: With Full Registration and FRCR you can apply for a Locum Consultant position. There are many locum agencies who will search jobs and setup interviews for you, which are usually on Skype. These are free as they charge the employer. You can also apply directly at the NHS jobs website. The problem with the Locum position is that you will need to keep switching jobs every year till you finish your CESR paperwork (read ahead), although it is quite easy to get a new job once you are in the system.

To get a Substantive (permanent) position, you need to complete a process called CESR (Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration) with GMC (this is like board certification in US). This requires a lot of paperwork, and you will need to work in the UK for couple of years for completing it.

Specialty Doctor: This position is one step short of a consultant position. However, you can get a substantive position with full registration without needing CESR with this route. It is also much easier to get this post especially if you haven’t successfully completed FRCR. The benefit is that you can work in the same place without the pressure of changing jobs; do note that you will have slightly less responsibility as well. However the pay will be less as well (37,000-70,000 per annum); you can negotiate and easily get the higher end of this pay range.

WHAT TO DO ONCE YOU ARE IN THE UK

As soon as you get an offer and join as a locum consultant or specialty doctor, check up the documents needed for CESR registration at the following link: https://www.gmc-uk.org/doctors/registration_applications/ssg.asp

It is important to start the process of obtaining the documents as early as possible as it is a long process, and you do not want to delay securing your Substantive position due to this reason. You will need a lot of paper work such as reports, job offer, performance review etc from the last 5 years of your work and will also need some paperwork from India as well. Start collecting them slowly from day one itself and try to build on what you are lacking as per the requirements. Although it will seem like a mountain when you look at it initially, once you start work you will also get guidance from some of your colleagues who have finished this process and it will slowly start to make sense.

In summary, know what you are getting into when you plan to work in the UK. Check out the fastest route possible to get into the system (PLAB vs FRCR). If you plan to settle in the UK, start planning on finishing your CESR paperwork from the day you join as a locum consultant or specialty doctor.

– Nameet Hattangadi

Consultant Head and Neck Radiologist, BHR University Hospitals, London

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PS: You can check our other blogs on training abroad in our section ‘Beyond the Shores’

30 thoughts on “Radiology in the UK – Getting in and What to Expect

    1. Nameet Hattangadi

      Yes you can if you finish PLAB and get full registration you can apply for specialty doctor or locum consultant. If you start giving FRCR2A as well at the same time it would be helpful.

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  1. Ameya

    Hello sir I have completed FRCR 2A and would like to know what are the opportunities for radiology fellowships in the UK after completion of FRCR 2b? How is the hands on exposure in UK for fellowship in MSK or Cardiothoracic and how much remuneration to expect? Is there adequate case load in the major hospitals offering fellowships?

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    1. Nameet Hattangadi

      You can get fellowships after 2a. Again you will need to give PLAB for full registration. Local trainees get preference hence getting a fellowship especially in more sought after fields like MSK is bit tough. Keep an eye out on NHS jobs and oriel. You can also email the training leads of the hospitals and they do reply. Remuneration is enough to survive.
      Usually fellowship are offered by tertiary hospitals and caseload is always huge. They offer fellowships more to get work done rather than teach hence you will get hands-on.

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    1. Nameet Hattangadi

      I know for a fact that FRCR is helpful in Singapore to get a job because I was offered one. The only issue I had with Singapore was that you can’t get consultant post and will be offered registrar type post so didn’t see any future for myself. But if you plan to work temporarily as stepping stone for something else then go for it.

      I would assume that it would be helpful for gulf as well but don’t really know much about it.

      Australia again am sure it has added weightage.

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    2. Hi Dr. Hattangadi,

      I’m a radiology trainee in Australia who is interested in undertaking a head and neck/neuro radiology fellowship in the UK next year. Do you have any recommendations as to where I should apply? Are there mixed H&N/neuro fellowships or are these usually separate?

      Thanks!

      Like

  2. Here are comments by Dr Harun Gupta, Leeds Teaching Hospital. He had taken a Cafe Roentgen session on Radiology in the UK (amongst other topics) when he was in Mumbai in Oct 2017.

    ‘​I agree with Blog written by Nameet Hattangadi. I had highlighted the same points in my talk.

    Moving abroad is a decision based on a number of things and one needs clear objectives / motive for doing it.

    UK radiology training is 5 years and in the last 2 years trainees are allowed to choose two subspecialties. A few trainees choose to do an additional 6th year post CCT of fellowship. All fellowships are 1 year posts and not for weeks or months. These are usually in Teaching Hospitals and can be competitive. My suggestion would be that Indian trainees need to up their skills as much as possible for few years after 3 year of their training and get their CVs in right direction. Then follow route of observer post, FRCR and apply for Fellowship positions or Specialty doctor positions in Teaching Hospitals (where there are opportunities for subspecialty learning). As I said in my talk, Fellowships are post CCT posts and mainly for fine tuning skills. One is expected to be proficient in general work and communicating with patients and colleagues.

    For fellowships and speciality posts – best place to look is the following website:
    https://www.jobs.nhs.uk/

    Like

  3. Dear sir,
    Thank you for an informative article.
    I would like to know what must one do to get a 2 year specialist training in uk under international sponsorship scheme or Mti.
    I was interested in doing residency again in uk but I realised im ineligible after md radiology for a 5 year training.

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    1. Nameet Hattangadi

      I am sorry but I dont think I can be of much help in this regard. MTI option is used more often in clinical fields like Gynaecology etc. where it is almost impossible to get a job in the UK as a consultant if you are not trained in the UK. Since its easy to get a job in Radiology this option has not really been explored much and I dont think that many hospitals would be offering sponsorship schemes for Radiology as the hospitals usually sponsor the candidates to have more man power to cover emergencies and ward work. However as mentioned before I have limited knowledge about this route and if you know anyone who has used this route I would really be interested to know more.

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      1. Thank you for your reply.
        I too do not know of anyone who has taken a 2 year specialist registrar post via ISS/MTI scheme.The approach is rather unclear on both RCR and MTI websites.In case I obtain more information about this I shall update here.

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      2. Krishna Mundada

        Hi sir,
        Thanks a lot for your article. Sir you meantioned that radiology training in UK is very basic. I am in my final year of med school and am planning to take PLAB and aim for radiology residency in uk, however, my aim is to get the best training and proper experience as a doctor. Do you still think that going with PLAB is a good option for my initial years as a resident if at all i get the opportunity to be one. Thank you so much.

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  5. Dr.Tanya

    Sir, it is necessary to get registered under GMC via the CESR route to become a permanent consultant in the UK, correct? So after one finishes their steps of FRCR, then how does one choose to apply for the Specialty doctor post? can the CESR process be skipped altogether by choosing this post?

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    1. Nameet Hattangadi

      You need CESR to become a permanent consultant.But if you have FRCR you can apply for full registration with licence to practice and get a job as a fixed term consultant or specialty grade doctor without doing CESR. The fixed term consultant role is generally for a year which can sometimes get extended for another year if you assure them you are working on your CESR otherwise you can move to another trust. The specialty grade is more long term but with lesser pay.

      You can apply via NHS jobs or there are many agencies who arrange interviews and help with the process which are free of cost to us as they charge the hospitals. You can also apply for a consultant job on NHS jobs if there are no specialty grade posts available and if they dont have a local candidate they will call you and offer you a fixed term contract and after a year if you feel CESR is going to take a while most trusts are happy to retain you as a specialty doctor till the time you get it.

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  6. Harshit

    Thank you sir for such informative article. I am interested to know whether one should give PLAB after MBBS and go up the ladder to become a consultant or is it better to do MD Radiology in India and give FRCR and then apply in the UK. Will the later option save years?
    And also sir, how tough is it to get work visa for UK from India and is it easy to get permanent residency there?

    Like

    1. Anonymous

      Am not sure of your present qualification. Have you done Radiology or finished MBBS till now. From your question it seems you have recently finished MBBS. Getting Radiology residency in UK is very difficult as its one of the preferred branches and preference is given to local candidates.You might be able to get training number in Emergency medicine or some other less popular fields.

      So your chances of getting Radiology in India though also difficult is much higher. Radiology training is five-six years here. Getting a work visa is quite easy as Radiology is now in Shortage occupation list and anyways you will only get a job offer here if there are no local candidates ( what they call resident labor market test). Once you get a job offer you will almost certainly get a visa. However things can change a few years down the line no one knows.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Rudo

    Hi Dr Nameet Hattangadi. I have a question with regards to CESR application. It is important to achieve all the CESR requirements in a training post or is it acceptable to get them through locum consultant work? For example, completing 4 years radiology training in another country, then doing 1 year locum consultant work in the Uk, while working on some of the requirements? For example audit, management work, teaching etc?
    Look forward from you?

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    1. Nameet Hattangadi

      It is important to achieve all the CESR requirements in a training post : Not at all.

      Weightage is given to last 5 years, whether training or at work. UK experience although not compulsory is very helpful so sounds like a good plan.

      Like

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  10. Anonymous

    Hello sir. Thankyou for this very informative post. I’ve cleared frcr part 1 and will finish MD radio soon but might have to shift to uk immediately. I wanted to know whether it is possible to get a radiology job after MD radio, frcr 2a and plab +GMC registration before 2b.. Or whether I’ll have to do jobs which are not related to radio?

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  11. I must congratulate Dr. Nameet Hattangadi for passing FRCR (3 parts) in Clinical Radiology during full time MD-Radiology Curriculum in India. You must be genius and talented or having great fortune to work in NHS Trust, UK Hospital as Consultant- Head & Neck Imaging at very young age.
    I have obtained GMC Registration No Ref: 7809518 and then received Detailed Email from Specialist Applications Team, Manchester . Now “Registration and Revalidation Directorate of GMC” asked me to complete CESR or CEGPR Application process.
    Due to Corona Virus (Covid-19) Pandemic GMC offices in UK are closed. Now my questions are-
    1) Does they need hard copies of my Speciality Educational Qualifications, Fellowship in Interventional Radiology training, 15+ years Clinical experience and Recommendation letters via Royal Mail/Postoffice or via Email (Scanned Copies) or in person submitting papers in GMC-UK?. I donot understand.
    2) Is PLAB with IELTS & OET is Compulsory for obtaining “Specialist Doctors job” position in NHS-UK?
    3) Is FRCR & MRCP with CESR Full Registration with GMC will assure me 10-12 Programmed Activity (PA) Consultant job with lead role and more than £ 1,10,000 (Pounds) per annum Salary??
    4) What will be situation after Britain’s Exit from European Union (BREXIT) for obtaining Tier-2 UK-Permenent VISA for Consultant/Specialist Doctors from India?
    5) May I get Direct opportunity to obtain Consultant Interventional Radiologist (Peripheral Vascular) Position after clearing PLAB with CESR?
    Thanking you. Waiting for the reply!
    -Dr. Mangesh Prakash Tarte,
    IR Consultant, Ahmednagar (MS)-414003.

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  12. Hello Sir thank you for the post . I have a doubt that I am unable to get answer so far . My end goal is to settle in the UK and work as a Specialist doctor in the department on radiology . I have done my MBBS in India . And I have done 3 years residency in the department of radiology in Russia .
    1. Would I be eligible to give all the steps for FRCR .
    2. If I could clear the first step in FRCR , and give PLAB , how would my pathway end up to working as a radiologist in the UK
    3. And most importantly , if I give only PLAB , whats the probability of me getting a training post in radiology for my speciality training given that I have a M.D radiology 3 year degree from Russia . Thank you in advance

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    1. Anonymous

      Hello sir. I’m shivani. R from velammal medical college hospital. I’m currently doing my internship. I am interested in taking up radiology. Doing md radiology in india then clearing frcr in UK or directly getting into the radio pathway in UK after internship. Which one wouldbe a better option sir. Are there fair chances of fellowship opportunities after md radio in India?

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      1. Getting a fellowship in India is not that difficult Shivani. There are plenty of options available. Haven’t heard of many doing Radiology directly in the UK, so cannot comment on the level of difficulty involved in securing that. If you know what your eventual goal is, it often gets easier to plan and act accordingly during residency itself, which will be an advantage for you.

        Like

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