Allied Health Professionals Guide to working in the United Kingdom (UK)

Art Therapists, Drama therapists, Music therapists, Chiropodists/podiatrists, Dietitians, Occupational therapists, Operating Department Practitioners, Orthoptists, Osteopaths, Paramedics, Physiotherapists, Prosthetists and Orthotists, Radiographers & Speech and language therapists

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the body that regulates most allied health professionals (AHPs) in the UK. The exception are osteopaths who must register with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC).

The HCPC and GOsC set standards of professional training, performance and conduct and hold a register of health professionals who meet the registration standards.

The allied health professions incorporate a number of professions including physiotherapists, radiographers, practitioner psychologists and speech and language therapists. For a full list of those regulated by the HCPC, visit the HCPC website. 

For information about the regulation of osteopaths, visit the GOsC website 

Each of the regulated professions has a ‘protected title’ and anyone who uses one of these titles must be registered with the HCPC or GOsC. Each application submitted to the HCPC and GOsC is looked at on an individual basis by registration assessors. All applicants will be required to meet the standards of the HCPC or GOsC and must provide both character and health references and in certain circumstances applicants may be asked to provide clinical references.

It is a legal requirement that you be registered to practice if you have a healthcare job in the UK. For many health professionals, the Health Professions Council (HPC) is the regulatory body with which you will have to register.

The full list of Allied Health professions regulated by the HPC includes:

Arts Therapists
Biomedical Scientists
Chiropodists / Podiatrists
Clinical Scientists
Dietitians
Occupational Therapists
Operating Department Practitioners
Orthoptists
Paramedics
Physiotherapists
Prosthetists and Orthotists
Radiographers
Speech and Language Therapists
Music Therapists

The above list of Allied Health professions contains some general titles which actually cover a variety of specialties. The title of Clinical Scientists, for example, can be applied to a number of specialties such as Audiology or Cardiography.

For each of these professions, at least one protected title exists. For example, Occupational Therapist is a protected title, meaning it is illegal to work as an Occupational Therapist unless you are registered with the HPC.

Registration with the HPC is valid for two professional years, after which you must renew your registration and confirm that you have met the HPC’s requirements for Continuing Professional Development. Each profession has it’s own dates for a professional year, a list of which can be found on the HPC website.

In order to practise in the United Kingdom, healthcare, social workers and paramedics need to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

What do you need to do to register with the Health Professions Council?

HPC registration as an overseas qualified health professional you will have to meet strict standards relating to your:

  • training and qualifications
  • professional skills and experience
  • personal character
  • personal health

All applications for registration are investigated individually. As a result, the registration process can be both time consuming and expensive. You should be aware of these factors and allow for them when planning your move to the UK. While the application process can be quite demanding on you but the chance to work in a healthcare job in the UK — one of the world’s most advanced healthcare systems — is a considerable reward.

The processing time for an application is usually 6 -8 weeks. During peak periods, or if your application is incomplete, processing can take months.

The cost to apply for registration is £400. This is a one-off, non-refundable ‘scrutiny fee’ which is separate to the registration fee you will be charged should your application be successful. Contact the HPC to find out the registration fees applicable to each profession. As a guide though, registration renewal costs £144 for two years and this amount can be claimed as a tax expense.

What should you do to help with the registration process?

The HPC registration process is very thorough when assessing international applications and you should be equally thorough when filling out your application. Ensure that you give yourself enough time to complete all the application requirements and make sure you pay attention to the details. A comprehensive application guide can be found on the HPC website.

Click here for an Application Form

As part of your application you will have to provide a character reference, a health reference and 2 clinical references. You will also have to contact the university or institution where you achieved your qualification and have them provide a detailed overview of the course you studied.

The application must be completed with black pen and with BLOCK CAPITALS. Together with the application form, you must provide HCPC with the following additional documents:

  • Two certified* copies of your ID (passport, driving license or ID card)
  • Certified evidence of any change of name (if applicable)
  • Certified copy of your qualification/s
  • Certified copy of IELTS test if English is not your first language or an English language declaration if English is your first language
  • Certified copy of the professional body in your country (similar to HCPC in UK)
  • Proof of address (bank statement or utility bill) in its original form or a certified copy

If the documents mentioned above are not in English you will have to add the translated version too.

*Certified documents – these documents must be certified as a true copy of the original by a person of professional standing in the community. This means that the person you ask to certify your document(s) must write on it ‘I certify that this is a true copy of the original document’ and must sign it and print their name and professional title. The person who certifies your documents(s) can be:

  • an accountant
  • a solicitor
  • a barrister or other legal practitioner
  • a bank manager
  • a Justice of the Peace or other judicial official
  • a minister of the Church, Rabbi, Imam or other recognised religious official
  • a Member of Parliament, Member of Scottish Parliament, Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Member of the Welsh Assembly
  • an Officer in HM Armed Forces
  • a teacher or lecturer
  • a registered health and care professional

Pages 15 and 16 of the application must be completed by your current employer, who should be the same person who you mention on page 8.

Pages 18 and 19 must be completed by your previous employer, who should be the same person who you mention on page 10.

When you provide email addresses from a university or the professional body in your country, please check that they are valid.

HCPC costs

  • £495 covering your scrutiny fee – which has to be paid when your application is received by HCPC. Some employers may offer funding to cover this cost; your consultant will be able to confirm this when discussing the roles.
  • £180 covering your 2 years membership fee – which has to be paid at the end of the registration process (HCPC will contact you directly for this payment).

HCPC timeframe

The HCPC registration process can take up to 16 weeks.

Immigration regulations

Note: The following information is intended as a general guide only, and should not be used as a sole source of information.

Any International medical graduate (IMG) coming to the UK must satisfy UK immigration requirements. These are handled entirely separately from registration matters.

Please note that being granted a particular type of registration has no influence on immigration status and does not mean that you will automatically be allowed to remain in the UK.

Immigration law is very complex and Allied Health Professionals hould seek detailed advice from UK Visas and Immigration or from a licensed immigration adviser.

Allied Health Professionals who are still overseas can seek advice from the British High Commission, Embassy or consulate.

Find contact details on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website

Employers must apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship and will usually be required to show that no suitably qualified resident worker is available to do the job. The process is simplified if the post is considered a shortage occupation. Once you have been issued with a Certificate of Sponsorship you will be able to apply for a Tier 2 (general) visa. This is the permission that you will need to stay in the UK and this visa will be specific to a particular post or job. If you then move to another job you would have to make a new application for leave. After a continuous period five years spent on a Tier 2 (General) visa you can apply for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residency) in the UK.

Note: The above information is intended as a general guide only, and should not be used as a sole source of information.

Where to get good immigration advice

It is important to note that under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, all organisations and individuals giving immigration advice must be authorised by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC). Lists of advisers can be found on the OISC website.

English language requirements

Who needs to provide evidence of knowledge of the English language?

All nurses who practise medicine in the UK must have the necessary knowledge of English to communicate effectively so they do not put the safety of their patients at risk. Communicating includes speaking, reading, writing and listening.

Whether we ask you to give us evidence that you have the necessary knowledge of English depends on a number of things.

All applications to join the HCPC part of the Register must include evidence of completion of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test. You must complete the academic version of the IELTS test and achieve:

  • at least 7.0 in the listening and reading section 1
  • at least 7.0 in the writing and speaking sections
  • an overall average score of 7 (out of a possible 9)

The HCPC will not consider applicants who score lower than this standard.

IELTS

IELTS is an English Language test administered by the British Council, IDP Education Australia and Cambridge ESOL. It is run in over 100 countries. You can find out more on the IELTS website at http://www.ielts.org

For us to accept your IELTS certificate, it must meet our criteria.

Your IELTS certificate is valid for two years.

If you have obtained the required scores in the academic version of the IELTS test over two years ago, you may be able to prove to us that you have maintained your English language skills.

You can do this by submitting your original IELTS certificate showing that you got the required scores and one of the following:

  • Evidence that you have successfully completed a postgraduate course of study, where all elements of the course of study, including clinical activities, were taught and examined solely in English, within the past two years.
  • A reference from an employer or your tutor or lecturer on a postgraduate course of study from a country where English is the first or native language. The reference must cover at least three months full time employment or study within the last two years.

If you supply a reference we will keep this for our records.

Please note that achievement of IELTS for the purpose of applying for registration with the HCPC may not be acceptable evidence of your English language skills for the purpose of obtaining a UK Visa. We recommend you visit the UK Visa and Immigration website to check their requirements.

OET

The Occupational English Test (OET) is an international English language test that assesses the language and communication skills of healthcare professionals who seek to register and practise in an English-speaking environment.

It provides a valid and reliable assessment of all four language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking – with an emphasis on communication in medical and health professional settings.

OET tests international health practitioners in the following 12 professions:

  • Dentistry
  • Dietetics
  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Optometry
  • Pharmacy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Podiatry
  • Radiography
  • Speech Pathology
  • Veterinary Science

OET is recognised and trusted by more than 40 regulatory healthcare bodies and councils in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Dubai, Namibia, UK (HCPC) . Many organisations, including hospitals, universities and colleges, are using OET as proof of a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively in a demanding healthcare environment. In addition, OET is recognised by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection for a number of visa categories, including work and student visas.

Primary medical qualification taught and examined in English

You may also be able to show us you have the necessary knowledge of English if your primary medical qualification has been taught and examined in English. In this case you would need to send:

  • A statement that you have not taken the IELTS test before.
  • An original letter or certificate from the institution where you qualified that confirms:

a. all of the course, including clinical activities, were taught and examined solely in English

b. at least 75% of any clinical interaction, including personal contact with patients, their families and other healthcare professionals, which took place as part of the course of study, was conducted in English

c. the date you sat your final examination.

UK Lifestyle

  • Faith / Religion – The UK has one of the most religiously diverse populations in Europe, and the right to religious freedom is embraced. Communities and individuals are free to practice their faith without hindrance and encouraged to openly celebrate it. It is illegal in the UK for anyone to discriminate against you because of your faith or religion. If they do you must report it.
  • Discrimination – It is illegal in the UK to discriminate against people because of their colour, race, ethnic or national origins, age, gender, sex or sexual orientation. If you have been discriminated against for any of these reasons, you must report it. If you have been found to have discriminated against someone you could be prosecuted.
  • Smoking – In the UK smoking is forbidden in all enclosed public places such as pubs, restaurants, nightclubs, shops, offices, government buildings, factories, private members’ clubs, in cinemas and on public transport. You are allowed to smoke outdoors, at home or in provided smoking rooms in prisons, care homes and hotels. Certain outdoor locations such as sports arenas and railway platforms could have a smoking ban. If you are unsure about whether you can smoke somewhere, look for signs or ask somebody before you light your cigarette. If you are caught smoking in a banned area you could be fined £50.
  • Alcohol – It is illegal to drink alcohol in some public areas in the UK. If you are caught drinking alcohol in a public place where drinking is not permitted, it will be confiscated from you. Excessive drinking can lead to public order offences for which you can be arrested and prosecuted. Remember it is illegal to drive any vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Spitting in Public – Whilst it is not illegal to spit in public, many people will find it offensive. If you need to sneeze or blow your nose, use a tissue or handkerchief so you don’t cause offence.
  • Appointments – It is important to arrive on time for meetings and appointments. In places such as hospitals and doctor’s surgeries you are advised to arrive 10 minutes early. This will help to keep waiting times down. If you know that you are going to be late or unable to attend a meeting or appointment, you should let the person know in advance.
  • Visiting Friends – If you are invited to someone’s home for a meal, you may wish to take a small gift (such as flowers, chocolates or a bottle of wine) or you could invite them to your home in return. People from the UK will be interested to hear about your home country, so you might like to bring some photographs or small items to show your friends or guests.
  • Greeting People – In the UK it is polite to say ‘please’ when you ask for something and ‘thank you’ when you receive something, or if someone is kind to you. If you meet somebody you know say ‘hello’, or if you want make a more formal greeting you can shake hands. In the UK you do this with your right hand.
  • Queues – Wait in a queue (or line) for buses, at supermarket checkouts and other public places. People will be offended and think that you are rude if you do not.
  • Social Activities – If you take part in social activities you will find it easier to make friends. You can visit your local community centre to find out what social activities they arrange. Going to a public house (pub) is a common social activity for people in the UK. Pubs do sell non-alcoholic drinks and often hold special events in which you can get involved in.

Remember, if you feel uncomfortable about taking part in something you have been invited to do, just say no, you will not cause offence.

Accommodation

Overview

One of your primary concerns when moving to the UK is where you will live. If accommodation is not provided by your employer, the information provided here will help point you in the right direction.

Can You Live in the UK?

You must check your immigration status as you may not be permitted to live in the UK. If you are not currently in the UK, you should contact your nearest British Diplomatic post. You will be given detailed advice about your rights concerning living and housing in the UK.

Types of Accommodation

When looking for housing in the UK you have many options, but some of these can be expensive. You must remember to look carefully at what you can realistically afford.

Guest Houses / Bed and Breakfast These are often expensive and would ideally suit short-term stays.

Private Landlords To find listings of available properties try looking at: – Local newspapers – Notice boards in community centres – Local shops – Post Offices –

Letting Agents & Private landlords may require references, a deposit and one month’s rent in advance.

Cost of Living

Cost of living in United Kingdom is 0.69% lower than in United States (aggregate data for all cities, rent is not taken into account). Rent in United Kingdom is 15.71%lower than in United States (average data for all cities). For a guideline on the cost of your daily/ weekly expenses click here

Grades & Pay Scale

If you are not used to the grade of Allied Health Professional in the UK they can at first seem confusing. However, the main differences lie between the grades that lead to a Certificate of Specialist Training and those that do not.

Click Here

Education

Education in England is overseen by the United Kingdom’s Department for Education and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Local government authorities are responsible for implementing policy for public education and state-funded schools at a local level.

The education system is divided into stages based upon age: Early Years Foundation Stage (ages 3–5), primary education (ages 5–11), secondary education (ages 11–18) and tertiary education (ages 18+).

From the age of 16 there is a two-year period of education known as “sixth form” or “college” which typically leads to A-levelqualifications (similar to a high school diploma in some other countries), or a number of alternative qualifications such as BTEC, theInternational Baccalaureate or the Cambridge Pre-U.

England also has a tradition of independent schooling and Home schooling; legally, parents may choose to educate their children by any suitable means.

Higher education often begins with a three-year bachelor’s degree. Postgraduate degrees include master’s degrees, either taught or by research, and the doctorate, a research degree that usually takes at least three years. Universities require a Royal Charter in order to issue degrees and all but one are financed by the state via tuition fees, which cost up to £9,000 per academic year for English, Welsh and European Union students.

Applying for jobs

Feel free to visit our jobs section to find the latest vacancies as per your grade & specialism.

If you require any further guidance,
get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.
Contact us on +(44) 1234 88913
Email: info@workplacedoctors.co.uk