The government, through the National Health Service (NHS), provides the majority of health care. Free at the point of service, the program is funded by taxes – primarily general taxation and national insurance contributions (NICs). Established in 1948, the NHS provides preventive medicine, primary care and hospital services to all those “ordinarily resident”. Over 12% of the population is covered by voluntary health insurance schemes, known in the United Kingdom as private medical insurance (PMI), which mainly provides access to acute elective care in the private sector.Read more
NHS-funded primary care is provided in various ways. The first point of contact for general medical needs is usually self-employed GPs and their practices, typically entering into contractual engagements with Primary Care Trusts, although GPs may also be employed directly by alternative providers (e.g. commercial sector). Community health services, NHS Direct, NHS walk-in centres, dentists, opticians and pharmacists are part of NHS primary care services. The primary care system also plays a gatekeeping role in determining access to more specialized, often hospital-based, acute health care services.
NHS-funded secondary care is provided by salaried specialist doctors (consultants), nurses, and other health care professionals (e.g. physiotherapists and radiologists) working in government-owned hospitals (NHS trusts). A small private sector exists alongside the NHS, funded through private insurance, direct payments from patients, or publicly funded payments by PCTs and the Department of Health, and mainly provides acute elective care. To access NHS specialist care, patients require a referral for a consultation from a GP. Patients can also pay out of pocket for a private consultation or be referred through a PMI scheme if they are members of such a scheme.Less
Career Path to becoming a Doctor
Following successful completion of the undergraduate medical course, graduates undergo a period of postgraduate training which incorporates foundation training followed by a period of higher training. Once graduates begin their foundation training they are entitled to a salary.Read more
The content and duration of postgraduate training will depend on whether you wish to pursue training in a specialist area of medicine or surgery, or in general practice.
Stages of career progression of a doctor
- Medical degree (usually 5 years)
The undergraduate course provides students with exposure to the different specialties within medicine. It involves basic medical sciences and practical clinical tasks, and seeks to develop attitudes and behaviours appropriate to the medical profession, as well as the skills of independent learning.
- Foundation Year 1
Newly qualified graduates from medical school receive provisional registration from the General Medical Council (GMC) and undertake foundation year 1 (F1) which is designed to build on the knowledge and skills gained during undergraduate training. On successful completion of F1, trainees receive full registration with the GMC and can continue to the second year of foundation training build on the knowledge and skills gained during undergraduate training. On successful completion of F1, trainees receive full registration with the GMC and can continue to the second year of foundation training.
- Foundation Year 2
Foundation year 2 (F2) training continues the general training in medicine and involves a range of different specialties, which could include general practice. By the end of foundation training, trainees must demonstrate that they are competent in areas such as managing acutely ill patients, team working and communication skills, to continue training in their chosen specialist area or in general practice.
- Specialty and general practice training (between 3 and 8 years)
On successful completion of foundation training, doctors continue training in either a specialist area of medicine, or surgery, or in general practice. The area of medicine chosen will determine the length of training required before becoming a senior doctor. In general practice the training is of three years’ duration, and in general surgery, for example, the training is eight years in duration.
During this period of training, doctors learn and practice increasingly advanced areas of knowledge and skills in general practice or their chosen specialty in order for them to be able to undertake senior doctor roles once training is completed. Postgraduate training is overseen by the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board (PMETB).
- Continuing professional development (CPD)
On successful completion of postgraduate training, doctors gain entry to either the GMC specialist register or GP register and are able to apply for a senior post as a consultant or a GP principal, respectively. While these posts are viewed as career pinnacles, all doctors are expected to continually demonstrate their fitness to practise medicine, and so learning continues throughout a doctor’s career.
- Career grade posts: other opportunities for work
These posts include those with titles such as trust doctor, clinical fellow, specialty doctor and consultant, amongst others. For all such posts, GMC registration and a current licence to practise is required.
Within the UK these posts will usually include some opportunity for professional development, regular appraisal and the benefits of NHS employment including generous leave, competitive levels of pay and access to a final salary pension scheme.
Doctors with Tier 1 (General) permission to enter the UK can compete with UK/EEA nationals for any career grade posts. Doctors without Tier 1 status will only be able to take up a post with sponsorship from an employer under Tier 2 (for example, where the resident labour market test has been met and no suitable UK/EEA doctor could be found).
- Trust Grade Doctors
Trust grade doctor is a term applied to a doctor who is working in the NHS in a non-training post. The term derives from the fact that the NHS Trust contracts the doctor directly rather than by the Deanery that supervises local medical education.
There are many different types of non-training Trust grade posts. They can be clinical fellows, senior clinical fellows, clinical assistants or specialty doctors aiming to attract doctors with different skills and experience. Although they are neither training posts nor consultant posts, nevertheless they play an important and essential role in the NHS. It is not uncommon for posts of this type to be occupied by overseas doctors when they first enter the NHS. It can be seen as a first step before competing for a formal training post as it can provide essential NHS experience. Experienced doctors that may have already completed a training programme in another country can apply for appropriate Trust grade posts either to get further experience or before applying for NHS consultant posts if they are entitled to.Less
How to get a National Insurance number in the UK
The UK National Insurance Number (NINo) is your own personal account number, It is unique to you and you keep the same one all your life as it never expires. Every National Insurance number is different and it’s made up of letters and numbers like this: QQ 12 34 56 A. This number is a mandatory part of working in the UK and ensures that every employed citizen over the age of 16 contributes to welfare, healthcare and state pension services.Read more
When do you need to use NINo?
If you intend to work in the UK, you need to apply as soon as possible. You will need to quote yours to your employer’s accounts department for taxation purposes and contributions will be taken each time you are paid. You can only apply for a NINo once you are in the UK and have a postal address and a phone number. However, it’s possible to start your new job in the UK before your NINo has arrived.
If you don’t have one, you will be taxed more than normal so it’s wise to get yours as soon after arriving in the UK as possible. Further to this you will not be able to claim any of your overpaid taxes back or opt to get a NI rebate.
After applying you will receive your National Insurance Number and card in the post and you should ensure your employer is aware of this number. The envelope can arrive anywhere from 2 weeks to a few months as its arrival date depends on several factors including your EOI interview and wait times at your local office.
When and how to apply for a National Insurance number?
If you start work, you must apply for a National Insurance number if you do not have one. You do not need to have a plastic National Insurance number card. If you have the right to work in the UK, you will need to telephone Jobcentre Plus to arrange to get one. Lines are open 8.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Friday and are normally less busy before 9.00 am. Jobcentre Plus will arrange an ‘Evidence of Identity’ interview for you or send you a postal application. If relevant, they will confirm the date, time and location of your interview and what information/documentation you need to support your application.
The interview will usually be one-to-one (unless, for example, you need an interpreter). You will be asked questions about why you need a National Insurance number, your background and circumstances. You will also have to prove your identity. Bring as many ‘identity documents’ (originals, not photocopies) as you can to your interview.
Examples of documents which count are:
- valid passport (UK or foreign)
- national identity card (UK or foreign)
- residence permit or residence card including biometric immigration residency documents
- birth or adoption certificate
- marriage or civil partnership certificate
- driving licence (UK or foreign)
- work contract
- proof of address (rental agreement, letter or bill)
If you don’t have any of these – or other – identity documents, you still must go to the interview. The information you are able to provide might be enough to prove your identity. During the interview a National Insurance number application form will be completed and you will be asked to sign it. You’ll be told at the interview how long it’ll take to receive your National Insurance number. Jobcentre Plus will write and let you know whether your application was successful and what your National Insurance number is.
Tell your employer your National Insurance number as soon as you know it. Do not share your National Insurance number with anyone who does not need it as this might help someone to steal your identity. Remember to keep the letter telling you what your National Insurance number is safe as it is a useful reminder of your number. However, the letter on its own cannot be used to prove your identity and you do not need it to apply for a job or before starting to work. It’s the National Insurance number itself that’s important.
The process of applying for a NINo is the same for EU and non-EU citizens, although you must have the right to work in the UK to obtain it. Check if someone can work in the UK here: https://www.gov.uk/legal-right-work-uk
What if you lose your National Insurance card?
If you’ve lost or can’t remember your number, you might be able to find it on official paperwork like: · your P60 (end of year tax statement, given to you by your employer) · a payslip · a copy of your annual Self-Assessment tax return · other official correspondence. If you still can’t find your number, you can ask HMRC to confirm it by: · completing and returning form CA5403 – Your National Insurance number · contacting the National Insurance Registrations Helpline on Tel 0800 141 2075 (lines open 8.30 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday) HM Revenue and Customs cannot confirm your National Insurance number by telephone. They will write to you instead.
Opening a bank account in the UK
All employees working in the UK will need a current account with an UK bank in order to receive their salary.
What Documents Do I Need?
In order to open a UK bank account, you will need two documents: one to prove your identity and one to prove your address. This applies both in branch and online. Proving your identity is simple. You just need your passport, driving licence or identity card (if you’re an EU national). You’ll also have to prove your address by providing another document.Read more
Every bank has its own list of what documents are acceptable as proof of address. Broadly speaking, these include:
- a tenancy agreement or mortgage statement;
- a recent electricity or gas bill (less than 3 months old);
- a recent (less than 3 months old) bank or credit card statement that’s not printed off the internet; or
- a current council tax bill.
Of course, if you’re new to the UK, you probably don’t have any of the documents on this list. Luckily, in recent years, banks have become a bit more flexible in terms of what documents they will accept as proof of address.
Many banks will also accept a letter from Jobcentre Plus confirming your National Insurance number or even a letter from your employer, as long as it’s less than three months old. There is also another way. Before you leave for the UK, go to your bank and ask them to change your correspondence address to your UK address. You may also be able to do this via internet banking.
Once you’ve changed your address, ask your bank to send a bank statement to your new address by post, and you’ll have a document that proves your UK address.
Can I Open A Bank Account Before I Arrive In The UK?
Yes, you can. Your home bank may be able to set up an account for you if it has a correspondent banking relationship with a British bank. Many major UK banks also have so-called ‘international’ accounts. These are designed specifically for non-residents, so they’re a great option if you don’t have the documents to prove your UK address. In fact, you can even apply for an international account online. Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and NatWest all offer international bank accounts.
However, opening a bank account from abroad or an international account may not be the right choice for you. Very often, you will have to make a big initial deposit and commit to paying in a minimum amount of money each month. Some banks will also charge you a monthly fee in addition to these requirements. This can make your bank account expensive to open and run, especially if you still don’t have a job. There may also be other restrictions.
For instance, you may not be able to close the account and switch to a better deal until a set period of time expires.
Which Bank Is Best For My Needs?
Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this question. The banking industry in the UK is very competitive, and many banks have special products designed to attract specific types of customer.
This is clearly great news. Whether you’re a student, a professional or a business, you’re bound to find something to suit your needs. That said, you will also need to take your personal circumstances into consideration.
Things To Consider When Choosing a Bank
Because you’re new to the UK, you have a limited credit history and not much documentation. Some banks are strict with their requirements, so opening a bank account with them will be difficult.
It’s usually easier to open an account with one of the UK’s largest banks – Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC or RBS/NatWest. These banks have been in business for a long time and are very financially strong. They also have a lot of experience dealing with foreigners, so they are a bit more understanding of your situation and flexible with their requirements.
Your nationality will also play an important role. It’s probably easier to open a bank account if you are an EU national than when you’re from a country outside the EU. Either way, it’s a good idea to get in touch with customer support before you try opening an account. That way, you can get more information and ask questions about any difficulties you may have.
The Big Four UK Banks
There are more than ten retail banks in the UK, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. However, the biggest four UK banks are Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and RBS/NatWest. Let’s have a look at what each of them have to offer.
Barclays is one of the oldest banks in the UK; and has more than 1500 branches around the country. It’s also probably one of the easiest banks to open an account with if you’re new to the UK. In fact, you can even pre-apply for an account online before you arrive in the UK.
The account is free and comes with a contactless visa debit card as standard. However, you won’t be able to use your account immediately. Once you’re in the UK, you have to visit a branch with your reference number, passport and proof of address in order to activate the account. Barclays also has special accounts for students and businesses.
The international student account is free and offers cashback from various shops as well as a dedicated service that helps you build your CV and improve your interview skills. You can also upgrade your basic bank account with student additions. These include a free overdraft of up to £ 3,000 for three years and a contactless debit card. Barclays’ business account is free for the first year and comes with a choice of financing options, including planned overdraft and credit cards. You can get in touch with customer support via a live chat, where you can discuss the details of your application and ask questions in real time.
Lloyds is the largest provider of current accounts in the UK, and has about 1300 branches throughout the country. Opening a bank account is very easy, even if you have just arrived in the UK.
In fact, Lloyds has a special new to the UK account which you can normally open with just your passport or identity card (if you’re an EU citizen). The account is free and comes with a contactless visa debit card as standard.
Lloyds also has an account especially for students. This has a free overdraft of up to £1,500 for three years and an optional credit card with a minimum limit of £500. You can also open a business account. Depending on the size of your business, there are three accounts to choose from. However, all are free for the first 18 months. You’ll also get a range of business tools, including accounting software and legal assistance at a reduced price.
HSBC has more than 1100 branches around England and Wales, but a lower number in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Of course, HSBC’s biggest advantage is that it operates in more than 80 countries around the world. If you bank with HSBC in your home country, they can help you set up an account in the UK before you get here.
The basic current account includes free telephone and internet banking and comes with a visa debit card. However, whether you get a contactless card will depend on your individual circumstances. You may also have to undergo a credit check before opening your account.
With a free overdraft of £3,000 per year for three years and 2% in-credit interest on the first £1,000, HSBC’s student account is one of the best out there.
If you want to open a business account, there is a range of business bank accounts to choose from. All are free for the first 18 months and include perks such as a dedicated relationship manager to help you build your business and a knowledge centre with training articles and videos.
The RBS Group owns the Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest. Because they’re part of the same group, both the Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest have broadly similar products. However, most of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s 700 branches are located in Scotland, whilst NatWest has over 1,400 branches all over the UK. NatWest’s Select current account is free to use and comes with a contactless visa debit card as standard. You’ll also get access to an emergency cash service, so you can withdraw money from your account using just a security code if your card is lost or stolen.
NatWest also has excellent student and business accounts. If you’re a student, you will get a free overdraft of up to £2,000 for three years as well as a 33% discount on coach travel with National Express.
NatWest has 4 business accounts to choose from, depending on the size of your business. Even if you’re just starting your business, you’ll get free banking for 2 years, a free business credit card for the first 12 months and a free £500 overdraft for the first year. You can contact customer support via a live chat, where you can discuss the details of your application and ask any questions in real time.
Other Banks Worth Looking Into
While Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and RBS/NatWest are the four biggest banks in the UK, there are also other banks you can check. TSB is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the best banks in the UK. It’s quite easy to open an account, even if you’re new to the UK; and the Classic Plus account has some great perks. These include 5% interest each month on the first £2,000 in your account and 5% cashback each month on your first £100 contactless payments. The student account has a free overdraft of up to £1,500 for three years.
Santander is very popular because of its 1|2|3| Account. This offers up to 3% cashback on household bills and 3% interest on balances between £3,000 and £20,000. Unfortunately, you’ll need to undergo a credit check when you apply for this account, so if you’re new to the UK you probably won’t qualify. However, once you’ve been in the UK for a while (perhaps a year or so), it’s a good idea to look at it.
Of course, it’s always best to look at what different banks have to offer and see who has the best deal. Don’t commit to a product without at least having a look at what else is out there.
What Are The Costs?
You can get a basic current account at no monthly cost from most high street banks. This should be more than enough for your everyday banking needs.
Most banks also have premium accounts that offer additional benefits such as cashback on household bills, in-credit interest and insurance. However, these accounts will often have monthly fees and minimum eligibility requirements; and you may not qualify if you’re new to the UK. You’ll also need to be careful to stay in credit. Unless you have a planned overdraft facility, your bank may charge large fees if you withdraw more money than you have in your account. It’s always a good idea to read through your bank’s terms and conditions. That way, you’ll avoid any nasty surprises.
Withdrawing money from an ATM is free if you use one of your bank’s ATM machines. Many banks also offer free cash withdrawals even if you’re not a customer.
However, some ATM machines aren’t free; and can charge you between £1.50 and £3 per transaction. If you’re not using one of your bank’s ATM machines, check the machine first. Many free ATM machines will state that they are free. Similarly, some paid machines will warn you about charges before you can complete the transaction.
Using an ATM outside the UK is never free. Many banks will charge a non-sterling transaction fee, which can be as high as 2.99% per transaction. Some banks will also charge a cash withdrawal fee in addition to the non-sterling transaction fee.
More importantly, if a foreign ATM asks you which currency it should charge you in, always choose to be charged in the local currency. If you don’t, you’ll get an unfavourable exchange rate plus the fees charged by your UK bank.
Please remember to email your Britsh employer with your bank account number and sort code as soon as your account is open so that they can pay your salary into it.Less
The cost of living in the UK
The United Kingdom hosts large numbers of expats – some of whom arrive for just a short while, while others choose to make Britain their permanent home. Many of them choose a life in the capital, London, where it’s quite expensive, but you’ll also find the highest paid jobs here. The cost of living will of course depend on the individual situation (and tastes!) of each individual, but you still need to be prepared financially.Read more
If you’re working on a tighter budget, you can get a lot more for your money in one of the major regional cities, or a smaller town. And don’t forget, there’s more to the United Kingdom than England. Consider Cardiff in Wales, Glasgow or Edinburgh in Scotland, or Belfast in Northern Ireland, for example. Wherever you’re headed, and no matter whether you’re retiring, temporarily relocating or moving to the UK for good, it’s helpful to have a picture of what life there will cost as an expat.
Here’s a useful link: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=United+Kingdom
While it’s important to be aware of the costs you will be facing as a working traveller, don’t let it put you off! As long as you plan carefully and think about cost-saving strategies the cost of living in England or the rest of the UK need not be prohibitive. In the UK, shared housing and utilising the excellent public transport networks are two significant ways to reduce your costs of living.
There are also some initial costs that will whittle your wallet down fairly quickly if you don’t plan accordingly, especially when it comes to setting up longer-term accommodation. Generally you should budget for the following:
Accommodation when you arrive: If you haven’t already organised accommodation for when you first arrive make sure you have enough money for hostel or hotel accommodation (from £11 upwards per night) or to give to mates who let you doss.
Bond and first month’s rent: This will be your most significant outlay. When leasing a flat or room in a flat-share bond can be up to 6 weeks rent and on top of that you will probably have to pay up to a month’s rent in advance. This could be as much as £1500 depending on the price of your rent.
Transport: Flat or job hunting can take a lot of trekking across the city on Tubes and buses. Make sure you have some cash for public transport or to purchase an Oyster card, see Getting around the UK.
Mobile phone: If you’ve brought your mobile phone from home you still may need to buy a SIM card or pay to have your phone ‘unlocked’ from your previous carrier. Avoid phone contracts if possible and opt for pre-pay calling. Be sure to put aside some cash to buy pre-paid top-ups; not being able to call back a potential employer because you have no credit is not a good look!
Internet access: You’ll probably be using the internet for job hunting, searching for accommodation and making phone calls for staying in touch with family and friends back home. Internet cafes charge from £1 an hour, but allow plenty of cash for this as you’d be surprised how many hours you can rack up. If you have your own laptop, many coffee shops and pubs also have free wifi.
Clothing: Hopefully you packed suitable clothes for the season you’re arriving in the UK and if you found room in your suitcase or backpack, suitable clothing for job interviews in your line of work. But, if sneakers won out over suits, make sure you have some pounds in your budget for interview and work-wear.
Eating and drinking: Your first few weeks are sure to be a blur of eating, drinking and socialising. Eating out in London isn’t cheap so try not to have breakfast, lunch and dinner (and those crisps with your pint) while out and about as it will be more economical to buy groceries and prepare your own meals.
The cost of living in the UK, especially in London, is fairly high. However, the range of experiences on offer means that it’s still a hugely popular destination, for a permanent move, or just to spend a year or two exploring somewhere new. If you’re flexible about the exact location you choose in the UK, you can have a great lifestyle without breaking the bank.
Good luck with your new life in the UK!Less