Records of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists relating to the Overseas Doctors Training Scheme

Scope and Content

Papers relating to the administration of the Overseas Doctors Training Scheme (later the Overseas Doctors Training Fellowship), including pass files on microfilm and CD-ROM, printed regulations and guidelines, and correspondence relating to meetings for overseas doctors and questionnaire results.

This collection of material is comprised of the following:

RCOG/K1 - Pass files of overseas doctors, 1990-1997

RCOG/K2 - Regulations for the Overseas Doctors Training Scheme, 1986-1998

RCOG/K3 - Guidelines for participants in the Overseas Doctors Training Scheme, 1987-1999

RCOG/K4 - ODTS Career booklets, 1995

RCOG/K5 - Correspondence files of the Overseas Doctors Training Scheme, 1981-1994

RCOG/K6 - Statistics of the Overseas Doctors Training Scheme, 1984-2000

RCOG/K7 - Record cards of doctors participating in the Overseas Doctors Training Scheme, 1983-2000

RCOG/K8 - Dissertation presenting an evaluation of the Overseas Doctors Training Scheme, 1995

RCOG/K9 - Meeting papers of the Overseas Doctors Training Scheme, 1987-1992

Administrative / Biographical History

The mission of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is to set standards to improve women's health and the clinical practice of obstetrics and gynaecology both in the UK and across the world. One of the principal means of achieving this aim is through the College's provision of education, training, assessment and professional development.

Overseas doctors' training schemes (ODTS) were instituted by the Department of Health after the Second World War to arrange postgraduate training in the UK for overseas doctors. Under the schemes the Department arranged training posts for doctors from overseas, monitored training and negotiated with the Home Office over visas. During the 1970s the Royal Medical Colleges were also developing their own procedures for assisting and advising overseas doctors wishing to train in the UK. In the late 1980s responsibility for developing their own training schemes, including sponsorship, was passed to the Royal Medical Colleges.

In 1983 the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists decided to expand its existing arrangements, which had hitherto been confined to the placement of postgraduates financed by funds from overseas in unpaid supernumerary posts. Double sponsorship schemes were therefore initiated, the overseas sponsor normally being the national or regional representative committee of the College; in countries without such committees, sponsorship by Fellows or Members, or exceptionally, deans of medical schools was considered. Placement of sponsored trainees and their subsequent supervision was the responsibility of the College's Director of Postgraduate Studies. In 1986, a Sponsorship Officer was appointed.

In 1994, the ODTS section within the College acquired a careers side, run by a Careers Officer, who produced careers advice and guidelines. The section was renamed as the Overseas Doctors Training Fellowship in 2001, and maintained records of overseas doctors who had passed the MRCOG.

The Overseas Doctors Training Scheme (ODTS) came under the responsibility of the Postgraduate Training Department, and was open to doctors planning to take the membership examination of the College (MRCOG), as well as to others wishing to visit the UK for further experience. The scheme was also known as 'The Sponsorship Scheme' and requirements for entry were that the doctor should hold a medical qualification acceptable for registration with the British General Medical Council, together with 18 months recognised post-registration training, sponsorship by a Fellow or Member of the College, and possession of good written and oral English skills.

Acceptance on the ODTS allowed the applicant restricted exemption from the requirement to pass the test of professional knowledge and competence in English. The RCOG found training posts for applicants by submitting curriculum vitaes to consultant obstetricians and gynaecologists in the NHS. The training took the form of apprenticeships type of training, with relatively few formal teaching sessions, and was either at senior house officer or registrar grade for a period of six months, renewable for another six months if performance was found to be satisfactory.

In 2008 the scheme was renamed the International Doctors Training Programme.


The natural arrangement of files and series is retained where possible, although some composite series exist which were brought together from different transfers of material in order to facilitate access.

Access Information

Permission is required from College senior management for external access to College records less than twenty years old, and pass files are open 75 years after the last date on the file, other than to individuals seeking information regarding their own pass files: all other records are open by appointment, Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm. Email:

Acquisition Information

Internal transfers from the Overseas Doctors Training Scheme and from the Central Services Department.

Other Finding Aids

Details of contents of parts of the collection are available on request. Email

A database of overseas doctors who have applied to sit the MRCOG was maintained by the ODTF Administrator. Once the doctors pass the MRCOG their names were removed from this database and added to the MRCOG database maintained by the Register Secretary, Membership Services Department, with an annotation to indicate that they are overseas doctors.

Details of some parts of the collection are available through the AIM25 network: please note that these are not current or updated descriptions and all enquiries should be made to the College Archivist.

Archivist's Note

Record description compiled by Penny Bonning, Archivist, in May 2011.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies are available at the discretion of the College Archivist.

Copyright lies with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and permission to reproduce material should be sought via the College Archivist.

Appraisal Information

CD ROM in obsolete formats have been destroyed. Few administrative papers of permanent value have been passed to the Archives; the majority of correspondence files of the ODTF comprised routine enquiries and were destroyed after an agreed period.

Custodial History

The majority of the pass files on microfilm were derived from the ODTF administrator. In the case of the pass files on CD-ROM, the material was transferred from the now defunct Central Services Department, which arranged for the information to be converted to disc. In 2001 it was decided, following consultation with the College Archivist, that microfilm should again be the preferred non-paper medium.

The reference RCOG/K was originally used to catalogue the records of 'Birthright': these records are now catalogued as RCOG/D5


Additions to this collection are expected on a regular basis according to College record-keeping policies, although no records have been transferred to the Archive since 2000.

Related Material

See RCOG/A4 for papers of the College President relating to the formation of the ODTS

The Overseas Officer's papers may be found at RCOG/A5 and A8.

Related papers of the Examination Committee are held at RCOG/B1.