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The Specialist Register

What is the Specialist Register?

The Specialist Register is a list of doctors who are eligible to take up appointment in any fixed term, honorary or substantive consultant post in the NHS excluding foundation trusts. 

If a doctor is on the Specialist Register it will say so as part of their status on the medical register. You'll also be able to see:

  • the specialties (and sub-specialties) they are qualified in
  • the date they joined the specialist register in each specialty.

Doctors can practice in a specialty not shown on their Specialist Register entry. In most cases, they must be on the Specialist Register in at least one specialty to practise as a consultant in any of the UK health services. 

Apply to join the Specialist Register

If you have a specialist medical qualification, training or experience and you want to work as a consultant in a UK health service you need to apply to join the Specialist Register.

How you apply depends on things like when and where you completed your specialist medical training or experience.

Find out if you are eligible and how to apply

Types of applications available for specialists

More about the Specialist Register

We introduced the Specialist Register on 1 January 1997. Since then doctors must be on the Specialist Register in order to take up appointment to any post as a consultant in the National Health Service (NHS).

An exception to this requirement is any doctor who held a post as a consultant in oral and maxillofacial surgery in the NHS immediately before 1 January 1997. Doctors need to apply for entry onto the Specialist Register and meet the criteria set down in legislation. 

Some doctors on the Specialist Register will have completed a period of formal specialist training in the UK. We certify this training now but it was previously certified by the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board (PMETB, 2005–10) and the Specialist Training Authority (STA, 1996–2005).

Other doctors may have been awarded qualifications in specialised medicine by an appropriate competent authority in other countries of the European Economic Area. 

Some doctors will have been found eligible by the PMETB, the STA or the GMC, following an assessment of the specialist training undertaken or the specialist qualifications awarded in the UK or elsewhere.

Because entry onto the Specialist Register is a requirement for appointment (rather than employment) as a consultant in the NHS, some established NHS consultants are not entered onto the Specialist Register – simply because they were appointed before 1 January 1997, when this requirement came into effect. 

We operate a scheme for what are known as existing specialists, which lets 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, apply for entry onto the Specialist Register. See details of the existing specialists scheme.