ISTP: Trust information

An overview of the International Surgical Training Programme (ISTP)

International Surgical Training Programme (ISTP)

The aim of the programme is to support international development and improve the quality of healthcare globally by the sharing of knowledge, experience and best practice.

The ISTP was established in 2014 and operates within the generic Medical Training Initiative (MTI)

The programme allows the RCS to facilitate GMC registration and the supporting Tier 5 visa for International Medical Graduates (IMGs), from outside the UK/EEA, so that they can undertake training and development in the NHS for up to 24 months. 

This programme is primarily for the benefit of doctors from Department for International Development (DfID) priority countries or the Lower Income and Lower Middle Income (L&LMI) countries as defined by the World Bank.

The scheme is not intended as a route for permanent employment in the UK. 

The role of the RCS

The College plays a matchmaking role by identifying spare training capacity within the NHS, and suitably qualified overseas surgeons through our overseas partner institutions to fill the posts.

All trainees are interviewed first by our Clinical Leads to assess their experience, clinical knowledge and communication skills before being accepted onto the programme. 

The CVs and logbooks of candidates are then provided to recruiting trusts where they can then undertake their own shortlisting and interview processes.

Once an appointment is made, the RCS facilitates the GMC registration and Tier 5 visa for the candidate, including obtaining HEE approval for the post.

The ISTP team support the trainee and employing trust throughout the placement and arrange induction sessions, ISCP-enrolment, rotations (if applicable) and the certificate of completion.

At the end of their placement, IMGs will return to their home country and be able to share the knowledge and skills obtained in the NHS for the benefit of their colleagues and patients.

 Further information

For further information, or to speak with the ISTP Team, please call 020 7869 6412 / 6634 or email 

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