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.
The main routes to specialist registration are as follows:
Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) for doctors who have satisfactorily completed an approved specialist training programme in the UK.
The Portfolio Pathway (formerly known as CESR) is the route to specialist registration for doctors who have not completed a GMC-approved programme in the relevant specialty but who can demonstrate that they have the relevant knowledge, skills and experience. Doctors applying for specialist registration via the Portfolio Pathway will need to provide evidence that they have the knowledge, skills and experience required to practise as a specialist in the UK.
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.