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UK Trusts and University Health Boards

MTI and the ISTP

The International Surgical Training Programme (ISTP) operates within the generic Medical Training Initiative (MTI) and allows the RCS to sponsor International Medical Graduates (IMGs) for GMC registration and the supporting Tier 5 visa*. 

This programme serves as a mutual benefit in which overseas doctors will gain the knowledge, skills and techniques offered by the NHS and equally the UK will benefit from the increased workforce capacity, skills and knowledge the doctor can bring into the workplace.

The RCS provides a "match-making" service by identifying posts within the NHS suitable for the programme, and then sourcing overseas surgeons with the relevant experience, clinical knowledge and communication skills to fill those posts.

All IMGs are recruited through reputable partner institutions with whoe the RCS already has established links, and all the IMGs are interviewed by the RCS before being accepted onto the programme.

Trusts and Health Boards can submit ISTP posts to the RCS using the post submission form. These specialty registrar posts can be funded from:

  • savings on locum costs
  • money released by converting trust/hospital posts to ISTP posts
  • difficult to fill, or surplus training posts 

ISTP posts must be:

  • ST3+ level
  • 12-24 months' duration and contain a strong training element
  • fully supervised by a clinical and educational supervisor
  • approved by the deanery/LETB as containing sufficient training and not disadvantageous to UK/EU/EEA trainees
  • funded to an appropriate level 

* Due to Tier 5 visa restrictions, this programme is intended for surgeons applying from:

  • Department for International Development (DfID) focus countries;
  • countries listed as "low and lower-middle income" in the World Bank's Database.

Refer to Appendix A of this document for a list of the countries eligible for entry into the UK via the Tier 5 visa route.

Registering a post with the ISTP

Please read the Handbook for UK Trusts and complete the ISTP: Trusts Placement Register Form

Get in touch

The Global Affairs Office is the main point of contact for all queries from international surgeons and stakeholders who wish to find out more about opportunities and ventures overseas.

For contacts in education, exams or careers or dentistry, please see those sections of the website.

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