International referencing and mapping of UK GP training curricula (GMAP)

Addressing a knowledge and information gap identified by NHS England, and working in collaboration with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), the GMAP project aimed to develop and pilot a methodology for mapping GP training and other relevant healthcare system contextual data from an overseas country to the UK, to inform future consideration of streamlined processes for overseas doctors joining the UK GP register. Professor John Campbell leads the research team, with expert input from Professor Adrian Freeman, Dr Emma Pitchforth, project management overseen by Emily Fletcher and data collection support by Dr Leon Poltawski and Dr Jeffrey Lambert.


Over the last six years, the UK has experienced a worsening shortage in relation to the recruitment and retention of GPs. Amongst a number of responses, the UK government and NHS England have sought to develop opportunities for doctors who are suitably qualified but who work in non-UK settings to be attracted to the UK GP workforce. In this context, for doctors who are working outside the European context, there is a need to ensure that doctor’s training and experience is appropriate to support them working in UK primary care settings. Between the Royal College of General Practitioners and the UK General Medical Council, processes already exist to examine whether doctors have equivalent experience in respect of non UK trained GPs. However, these processes have been cumbersome, and NHS England commissioned this research which has allowed us to develop a methodology to examine whether a streamlined process for assessing doctors was possible.

Developing the methodology involved four stages and activities. Our final approach to allow comparison of the training and experience of GPs who have trained outside of the UK involved considering five specific domains: the healthcare context, the GP training pathway, the GP curriculum, assessment processes which have been undergone, and ongoing continuing professional development and revalidation.


The BJGP Open published a paper which outlined the development of the methodology and its application in a single case study site, Australia. The study concludes that implementing this systematic methodology for mapping GP training between countries may support the UK’s ambitions to recruit more GPs and alleviate current GP workforce pressures.

Fletcher E, Sansom A, Pitchforth E, Curnow G, Freeman A, Hawthorne K, Campbell JL. Overseas GP recruitment: comparing international GP training with the UK and ensuring that registration standards and patient safety are maintained. BJGP Open 2019