The Capital’s NHS Supports Refugees To Become Doctors With Medical Support Worker Role


The NHS in London has welcomed over one hundred international medics and refugees, including those from Ukraine, and Myanmar to become NHS doctors, thanks to the introduction of a new medical support worker (MSW) role.

More than 140 people were employed as MSWs last year in a significant boost to the workforce in the capital across the Royal London Hospital, North Middlesex University Hospital, and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

The new role sees those with medical training from overseas who come to live and work in England being fast-tracked into the health service and supported to become registered NHS doctors, while working under supervision.

While MSWs are completing the necessary checks and training to work as doctors in the NHS, they are able to support teams with tasks like pre-op assessments and assisting in theatre, helping boost capacity and deliver routine care.

NHS medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis confirmed that the programme is now set to be expanded, with £19m of additional investment allowing the recruitment of a further 500 people in 2022/23 across the country.

Sofiia Abdelani was previously an anaesthetist in Ukraine until she moved to England in 2018, where she worked as a medical support worker at The Royal London Hospital, giving her the opportunity to use her clinical experience while she studied. She has recently received full GMC registration and is working as a clinical fellow in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Sofiia said: “When I moved to England in 2018, I was looking for an opportunity to put my previous clinical skills from my time as an anaesthetist into practice and when I heard about the MSW role, I thought it was a perfect fit.

“There are so many aspects I like about the job, not just the valuable experience and the interesting work but the best is the people, those I work with and that I met due to the MSW programme – I love them all!”

“Getting GMC registration to allow you to practice as a doctor can be a lengthy and expensive process but the MSW role supports you as you become familiar with NHS systems, gets you the necessary experience and helps you fund your path to becoming a fully-qualified doctor here. I can’t recommend it enough.”

MSWs already have the experience and training that, once registered, means they are well placed to move to senior positions such as gynaecologists, A&E medics, or surgeons.

It is estimated that there are 2,000 international medics in the UK who are not GMC registered, and the MSW role is a welcome path to support those with several years of clinical experience into a medical career in the NHS.

Dr Chris Streather, Medical Director for the NHS in London, said: “The NHS in London has always welcomed the skill and dedication of doctors and nurses from all around the world as it’s a brilliant representation of the diversity of our capital city.

“The Medical Support Worker role is rightly supporting hundreds of highly skilled and experienced medics to join the health service as quickly as possible, and staff in this role across London have valued the support and guidance provided to help them grow and progress within the NHS.