Improving Global Health (IGH) FAQs


Who can apply for the IGH programme? 

NHS employees across England from a clinical or non-clinical background with an interest and enthusiasm for developing their leadership skills in a challenging and unfamiliar resource-poor environment.  

Applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. Please note, doctors and dentists must have completed FY2 as a minimum by the time they start their fellowship.  For all other staff groups, they must have experience of working in a band 6 role in the Agenda for Change scheme by the start of their fellowship. 

Applicants are usually early to mid-career. 

How can I apply? 

When the IGH Programme begins recruitment, you can apply on the IGH Programme page and you will be required to email your CV to Please email your CV as a PDF, saved in your name and followed by ‘CV’.

If you are shortlisted, you will be asked to attend a formal interview either in person or virtually.

Please note, you will need to have agreement from your line manager/Training Programme Director to apply and to support your participation in the scheme unless you are taking a break from training or work.

To be informed of updates on all programmes, including when the recruitment window opens, please email and request to be added to the mailing list.

What models of fellowship can I do?

The IGH Programme’s primary offering consists of 6-month fellowships spent overseas with one of our overseas partners.

A part-time 6-month virtual fellowship may also be possible, dependent on the needs of our overseas partners. Virtual fellowships are funded for the equivalent of one day per week of protected time to be able to devote to the fellowship. The pattern of use of such time will be agreed with each overseas partner and will be dependent on the project/programme of work and the availability of key personnel.

How long are IGH fellowships? 

IGH fellowships last for 6 months and run twice per year: August to January AND February to July.

Where are your overseas partners based? 

IGH Fellows can complete a fellowship with overseas partners in Uganda, Kenya, Myanmar, Tanzania, Zambia, Cambodia, Lesotho and South Africa, Anguilla and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

I am a locum healthcare worker, can I still apply?

Yes, providing you are working in an NHS setting in England.

I have not worked overseas before, can I still apply?

Yes. Support will be given to you both pre-departure and in-country to make the best use of your skills. However, previous experience of working/travelling in another country is helpful, as is working with people from a range of cultures in the UK. 

Can I take my family with me on an overseas fellowship?

No, it is not possible for IGH Fellows to be accompanied by other family members when undertaking an overseas fellowship. 


What is my pre-placement time commitment?

You are required to participate in a mandatory 3-day induction programme, and have a meeting with a UK-based mentor who you will be linked with. The induction programme will equip you with the requirements of the fellowship: service improvement tools, an overview of the educational plan, leadership skills, team working, and information about current projects in our partner countries, as well as provide you with a comprehensive Global Learning Opportunities ‘Fellows Handbook’. 

What contact will I have with my mentor? 

You will have at least one meeting, either in person or virtually, prior to starting your fellowship, with your allocated mentor as part of your induction to discuss your personal development plan having reviewed the NHS Healthcare Leadership Model

You will agree a means for making regular contact with your mentor whilst undertaking the fellowship, we suggest fortnightly. On completion of your fellowship, you will have a session with your mentor, either face to face or remotely, to reflect on your experience and review your personal development. 

What personal development training can I expect prior to starting my fellowship?

You are required to undertake the following training opportunities as part of the Fellowship: 

Completion of the online NHS Leadership Academy ‘Edward Jenner’ programme (to be completed by the end of your Fellowship) 

Complete the online Myers Briggs Personality Type Index (MBTI) and receive individual feedback from an MBTI Practitioner 

Other leadership development is part of the 3-day induction programme, which includes some interactive practical sessions focussing on the leadership behaviour domains within the NHS Healthcare Leadership Model (2013)

If undertaking an overseas Fellowship

Are my flights and transport paid for? 

Your return economy-class flights and airport tax will be paid for. In-country transport costs to and from the airport, such as taxis, will be covered by the IGH programme. However, you may need to pay for the costs first and then reclaim the money back by submitting an invoice. You will be expected to cover UK transport costs such as transport to the airport.  

What is my luggage allowance? 

This depends on the airline you travel with and will be their normal economy-class allowance. If you need more than the airline allows, you are required to cover any additional cost yourself. 

How do I get the correct visa? 

Please refer to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCDO) travel advice website for up-to-date guidance.  

Do I have to organise and pay for my own vaccinations and anti-malarials? 

Yes. You are required to participate in an assessment of your medical fitness to travel and work abroad, undertaken by a recognised travel clinic or your own GP, and for obtaining and funding any vaccinations required prior to your departure and medications during your project assignment, including medications required for pre-existing conditions, at your own cost. 

You must confirm in writing by emailing the IGH Programme team that you understand that you are responsible for acquiring your own medication, and submit evidence letting us know that you have sought and acted on medical travel advice. This is a requirement of the IGH health insurance policy.  

Will I be covered by health and general insurance? 

You will be insured by HEE’s business travel insurance policy which provides cover for emergency dental and medical emergencies, including repatriation to the UK for the duration of each 6-month Fellowship overseas.

You are insured for the full duration that you are in country on your Fellowship. Any personal trips/breaks resulting in overnight stays are not covered, and you will need to obtain additional travel insurance. Please note the insurance does not cover high-risk sports or activities. 

The policy offers virtual medical care with access to a 24/7 GP online service (or over the phone). The team can answer your health concerns and provide medical advice for minor illnesses or offer advice ahead of visiting a medical facility.  

Routine GP and dental visits are not covered, instead they are self-funded, so you may wish to obtain additional travel insurance before departing the UK.  

Our insurance does not offer any cover regarding HIV including the diagnosis of the illness in the case of accidently being pricked by a needle. 

Am I covered by indemnity insurance whilst overseas? 

You must provide evidence to the IGH Programme team that you have contacted your professional organisation/body to request cover for non-medical work including ‘Good Samaritan’ or ‘Humanitarian’ interventions. You must check with your relevant professional body to clarify what cover you need. 

Please provide copy of your documents confirming your cover whilst on fellowship prior to your departure as per the country checklist to the IGH Programme team. Your organisation may inform you that you do not need additional cover – please nonetheless inform us with evidence of this communication. 

Will I get paid during my placement? How much? 

For overseas fellowships, you will receive a monthly stipend, which is calculated to cover all essential living expenses (rent, food, utilities, laundry, internet access, transport between accommodation and place of work) whilst in-country. The monthly amount varies by site (range is £350 to £1,000). Fellows undertaking either physical, in-country Fellowships or virtual, currently invoice HEE for stipend payments.   

Where virtual fellowships are available, we currently pay £250 per day/£1000 per month.

Because this is a stipend, not a salary, no contributions are taken for PAYE or National Insurance. In addition, no NHS pension contributions are made. 

During an in-country fellowship, the IGH Programme team will contact you to ask for details of your monthly outgoings. This is to ensure the stipend amount being paid is in line with the cost of living for each fellowship site. 

Who will pay my stipend? 

HEE will pay your monthly stipend. The IGH Programme team will set you up on the Selenity system for claiming expenses. You will need to claim expenses on a monthly basis. Further details will be shared with you closer to the beginning of your Fellowship.

Does my IGH Fellowship count as NHS employment in terms of incremental pay rises? 

No, as this is not a NHS employment post. 

Do I get annual leave while I’m on fellowship? 

You are entitled to 15 days of annual leave during an in-country fellowship, the dates being agreed with our overseas partner.

The in-country public holidays should be considered and taken as part of your annual leave allowance, because of the high number of public holidays at most fellowship sites.

Virtual fellowships are pro-rata so 3 days.

Is my GMC license valid whilst working abroad?

IGH Fellows who hold a licence to practice must consider their options with regards to their licence to practice whilst they are abroad. The duration of the IGH Fellowship is 6 months so do not relinquish your licence. Doctors who are not in a training post or employed by a Trust whilst on the IGH Fellowship should ensure that they have disconnected themselves from their last designated body on GMC connect as they will not have a connection for this period of time. 

The GMC will write to you to confirm that you do not have a connection and will be able to provide you with further advice for when you return to training and /or employment.  

Doctors who do not have a training number – Do not give up a license to practice and continue collecting information to support your annual appraisal, which should happen on your return to the UK. 

Doctors in training posts – For trainees the situation is different. They usually take an OOPE (Out of Programme Experience). You must retain an NTN (national training number) and declare your full scope of work (including your time abroad) at your ARCP (Annual Review of Competency Progression). There is some good guidance on the Health Education England website: 

Toolkit for the collection of evidence of knowledge and skills gained through participation in an international health project.

Health Education England guidance for trainees planning to volunteer or work overseas.

During Fellowship

What will I be doing during my fellowship? 

IGH Fellows work in partnership with local teams, whether in-country or working virtually from the UK, supporting them to deliver locally agreed programmes of work. Fellowships undertaken in-country do NOT involve direct clinical care.  

You will coordinate a project, or projects, using quality improvement methods which may include education and training of local staff; audit and development of local health systems and processes. 

You will be allocated an identified in-country Project Supervisor to support you with your project work. 

A UK-based IGH Partnership Link Lead will visit during each in-country fellowship, usually in the first 3 months, for approximately a week. During this time, they will meet with IGH Fellows, together and individually, to discuss their project and any issues, and their Project Supervisor to discuss the project and the key links with our overseas partner.

For those undertaking virtual fellowships, your UK-based IGH Partnership Link Lead will arrange regular meetings with you.

You are required to submit a project plan within the first month of fellowship, whether in-country or virtual, a monitoring report at 3 months for in-country fellowships, and an evaluation/handover report at the end of both in-country and virtual fellowships. You will work with our UK-based Monitoring and Evaluation Fellow on each of these documents. 

What project will I be working on? 

Projects are set by our overseas partners depending on their needs at the time so you may not know what project you will be working on until the start of your fellowship.  There are a wide variety of projects, in both urban and rural settings and projects are based on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

We ask that you take good quality photographs whilst on placement in relation to your project and submit to the IGH Programme team for inclusion in the next Annual Report.

What type of accommodation can I expect to live in when undertaking an overseas fellowship? 

This varies from site to site. Generally, accommodation is basic but adequately comfortable and secure, with electricity, running water, and mosquito nets if required. 

How much will I pay for accommodation? 

You are expected to pay for your accommodation from your monthly stipend payment. Current costs are: 

East London, South Africa: approximately £290 per person per month 

George, South Africa: approximately £180 per person per month 

Cambodia: approximately £150 per person per month 

Lusaka, Zambia: approximately £200 per person per month 

Mapoteng, Lesotho: approximately £26 per person per month 

Gulu, Uganda: the accommodation in Gulu is funded separately and is prepaid, the monthly stipend reflects this. 

Note: the above costs were correct at the time of our last in-country fellowships so are for indicative purposes only.

What transport will I use in country? 

While doing project work your transport may be a bicycle or car which you drive, taxi or organisation vehicle with a driver depending on the placement site. 

What communication will I have in country? Is a mobile phone supplied? 

The IGH Programme does not provide mobile phones. Mobiles are readily and cheaply available in all countries, and internet access will be available using internet ‘dongles’ or in some cases, Wi-Fi.  

Should I take my own laptop?  

Yes, it is strongly recommended to take your own laptop to use for your project work. The IGH Programme does not provide laptops and access to office computers, if available at your fellowship site, may be limited or shared.  

How do I withdraw money in-country? 

All sites have ATMs in the main towns. You may want to check that you won’t be charged exchange rates and cash advance charges to use your card abroad. Inform your bank that you will be using it overseas so that your account is not ‘frozen’ to protect you from card fraud. 

Where else can I get up-to-date information about day-to-day life when undertaking an in-country fellowship? 

There is a specific handbook for each site which is updated by each group of Fellows, and contains useful information for in-country Fellows. We will share that with you once your site has been agreed.  

We ask that each cohort updates their handbook before the end of their fellowship.  

In the months before departure, the IGH programme team will put you in contact with those IGH Fellows who you will be replacing. They are best placed to advise you about the active projects, accommodation and other costs, as well as other practicalities.  

Are there any risks?

Health Education England and our overseas partner organisations take your security and safety as an IGH Fellow seriously. Before placing anybody as an IGH Fellow, we make an independent judgement that security risks are at acceptable levels. Avoiding unacceptable risk and minimising acceptable risk once you are on placement is a duty and responsibility shared by you, Health Education England and our overseas partners.  

By choosing to work in a different country and culture, you accept a potential increase in personal security risk posed by a new and unfamiliar environment. You are responsible for briefing yourself on security and safety and ensuring you are satisfied with the information you receive before you go. For up-to-date travel advice we advise all IGH Fellows to familiarise themselves with the latest information on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice website.  

We will discuss at induction what to do in the event of an accident or emergency on placement – see below. 

What should I do if I need emergency care? 

You are required to note the 24-hour emergency number and other key numbers, keeping them on you at all times. 

In the event of an emergency, in the first instance please contact the insurer. Then notify the overseas partner, followed by the IGH Programme team. 

Information about the process is included in detail in the Global Learning Opportunities ‘Fellow’s Handbook’ and as mentioned above will be discussed at induction. 

A copy of Health Education England’s Schedule and Certificate of Insurance will be emailed to you before departure which we encourage you to read through. 

Is there a Code of Conduct for IGH Fellows? 

Yes, you are expected to abide by our IGH Fellows Code of Conduct which is in the Global Learning Opportunities ‘Fellow’s Handbook’ and we ask that you confirm in writing that you have read it before going on placement. 

What is the dress code whilst undertaking an in-country fellowship?

The general rule for men and women is to dress modestly and respectfully, depending on whether you are in the office, in health facilities or in the field. You might find it useful to refer to the Local Laws and Customs section on the FCO travel advice website for your particular placement site. 

Can I socialise with local staff?

The IGH Programme is funded by the NHS so although you are not employed whilst overseas, you are acting as an ambassador to the NHS. You are encouraged to socialise with work colleagues but in a responsible and professional manner, including out of work time. 

Can I have a local boyfriend/girlfriend?

No. Intimate relationships with local people during your in-country fellowship is forbidden – see Code of Conduct. 

Can I have visitors? 

Yes, for short visits only, following discussion and agreement with others with whom you are living. This might appear obvious but unfortunately, we have had incidents where this common courtesy has been ignored. Also, please notify the overseas partner. 

Are there any occasions when my in-country fellowship would be shorter than planned? 

Your status as an IGH Fellow will be reviewed in line with the obligations set out in your Letter of Commitment and the Code of Conduct, as well as any other circumstances where it is felt wise or prudent to return home, e.g. becoming ill, political or civil unrest in-country, a pandemic such as Covid-19. 


What are my commitments post-placement? 

On return to UK you will be expected to complete any outstanding assignments as detailed in the Global Learning Opportunities ‘Fellow’s Handbook’, meet with your mentor, and make a short presentation which describes your work and personal learning to future IGH Fellows and others allied to the IGH programme. These events are usually held in an evening. 

Can I submit my project or experience for publication? 

Several IGH Fellows have published and presented about their experiences on the IGH Programme at a conference or other event. We support and encourage this, however, you are required to seek approval from the IGH Programme team and overseas partner before publishing any material connected with your fellowship. 

If you still have questions having read this information, please contact