Kim Tolley picture (002)Kim Tolley is the General Medical Council’s (GMC) Regional Liaison Adviser for South London. In September 2018, Kim was seconded to work with NHS England for two years as their Training Development Manager, helping to create learning resources for the International GP Recruitment Programme (IGPR).

The IGPR plans to recruit around 2,000 suitably qualified overseas doctors, from European Economic Area (EEA) countries and from Australia, into GP practices by 2020. It will also help them relocate to the UK and become qualified GPs here. In January this year, NHS England stated that there were approximately 1,200 applicants and over 170 doctors either in screening or in the early stages of recruitment.

With potentially hundreds of overseas GPs arriving in the UK to work in the short term, there is a clear need for support as they transition into the NHS. Kim tells us here why she is so committed to assisting doctors into UK practice and what help is at hand for them.

Why I want to support overseas GPs into NHS practice

I’m very proud to have worked in and close to the NHS for my entire professional career – from being an intensive care nurse in the Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust in Surrey, moving to my work as a nurse teacher. Then at the GMC teaching doctors, particularly focusing on those from overseas about our standards and guidance as a Regional Liaison adviser, and now with the IGPR. I know first-hand the invaluable contribution and diversity of experience that overseas doctors bring.

I have always been struck by how keen overseas doctors are to work for the NHS, but also how unprepared some are. The NHS is a wonderful but very complex organisation and for many doctors from abroad, relocating can be a very daunting and nerve wracking process. Newly arriving GPs will often be very concerned about how they fit into the structure of the NHS, as well as aspects of NHS clinical care and procedures that they won’t have experienced in their home country. In this role it’s really a privilege to be able to work alongside these doctors and help smooth their transition.

To be able to contribute to the ever-changing demands of our health service is another strong driving factor for me. Overall, the NHS needs to recruit a minimum of 5,000 doctors to general practice and it is great to be able to do what I can to help support reaching this target.

What help is available for overseas GPs?

A lot of my work at the GMC was based around providing support and guidance for any doctor new to the UK – 36% of NHS doctors are trained overseas – through the Welcome to UK Practice workshops. I have been able to take elements from this and use it to provide learning and on-going education specifically for international GPs.

For any doctor who is thinking about, or in the process of, becoming a UK GP I can highly recommend getting involved with the IGPRs Q&A video sessions to get a good understanding of how the GP system works here.

The Q&A format is proving to work well and it is so interesting to receive the interactive questions from doctors around the world. The sessions can be accessed at any point of a GP’s recruitment journey and cover the following topics:

  • Being a GP in the NHS
  • The GP as the first point of contact in the NHS
  • The GP consultation in UK practice
  • The GP looking after the whole person
  • The GP working in a multidisciplinary team

For me, working with overseas doctors, the most fascinating part is hearing the personal journeys undertaken to come and work in the UK as GPs. It’s an absolute honour for me to work alongside them and hopefully make those journeys smoother and easier.

To receive a link to the video conference and a calendar invite, please email