FAO: Locums in Saudi Arabia

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Fraser Clarke

Have you recently taken up a short-term locum in Saudi Arabia, or is it something that you’re considering? If so then we have some important information to avoid finding yourself in a tricky situation.

Unlike most other locations, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health only starts the process of registering you once you’ve arrived in the Kingdom.

Once granted, the issue date is backdated to when you first arrived and everything continues as normal. This approach can cause issues for medics taking up short-term (under three month) locums however.

Things move slowly in the Desert Kingdom, especially administrative tasks, and so it isn’t uncommon for the registration procedure to take more than three months during busy times or holiday periods.

Medics can therefore leave the country before the formalities are complete, putting them in a difficult situation if they return to the United Kingdom and attempt re-register with the GMC.

Without a record of registration with the Saudi authorities they have to declare that any work has been carried out illegally - despite this simply being a quirk of the system. Not only will you be unable to apply for accreditation until the paperwork is sorted, it can also damage your reputation.

So what can be done?

The easiest way to get round this is by ensuring that you don’t leave the country without the backdated registration complete. This will make sure that you avoid any difficulties or unnecessary stresses when re-applying to the GMC.

Alternatively - and only in extreme cases where you’ve had to leave without being able to check that the paperwork is complete - you can remove it from your CV, and say that you had taken a career break or holiday. Again this gets round the issue, but we would always recommend doing things by the book.

If you haven’t done either, then it becomes a waiting game. You’ll need to stay in regular contact with the Saudi MoH and ensure that they sort everything at their end. This can be a frustrating process however, especially if you’ve got another move lined up, so it’s easier to make sure that everything is tied up prior to your return.