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The privileges and duties of doctors in the UK

As a doctor registered with the GMC with or without a licence to practise, you have a duty to comply with our guidance Good medical practice.

The privileges of licensed medical practitioners

A doctor who is registered with a licence to practise is permitted to carry out certain activities (often referred to as ‘privileges’). These include but are not restricted to:

  • performing any duties as a physician, surgeon or other medical officer
  • prescribing prescription-only medicine
  • signing death certificates or other types of medical certificates
  • assessing the mental health state of an individual and recommend compulsory treatment.

Doctors who are registered without a licence to practise cannot exercise these privileges.

An employer may require a doctor to be registered with a licence to practise in some cases, even where their activities may fall outside of the privileges mentioned above.

If you are a doctor and you are unclear for any reason whether you need a licence for the work you are doing, you should always seek advice from:

Doctors must be clear whether they are licensed, hold registration only, or neither. It is a criminal offence in the UK for a doctor to give the impression that they hold registration or a licence, if they don't.

For further information on the licence to practise, please see our frequently asked questions.