It is a legal requirement for a doctor to have their name entered on the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council before taking up a substantive, honorary or fixed-term NHS consultant post in the UK.
The General Medical Council is the UK competent authority for postgraduate medical and GP training in the UK. The General and Specialist Medical Practice (Education, Training and Qualifications) Order 2003 sets out the legislative framework for the GMC.
Under the Order there are three main routes to specialist registration:
Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) for doctors who have satisfactorily completed an approved specialist training programme in the UK.
Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR) through the Combined Programme (CP) for doctors who have been appointed to a GMC-approved deanery specialist/specialty training programme above ST1 level and who have not completed all of their training in posts approved by GMC for the specialty to which they have been appointed.
CESR for doctors wishing to make a direct application to the Specialist Register on the basis of training, qualifications and experience undertaken anywhere in the world.
In addition, the GMC operates an 'existing specialists' scheme, which enables doctors who are not entered onto the Specialist Register, but who were appointed as consultants in the NHS or in the UK armed forces before 1 January 1997, to apply for entry into the Specialist Register. Further information can be found on the GMC website.