In the United Kingdom patients are protected by the General Medical Act. This is civil law and its purpose is to ensure, amongst other things, that persons non-medically qualified do not pass themselves off as medical doctors.
With respect to surgery it prohibits anyone not medically trained from using the title of surgeon (similarly the names physician and psychiatrist are restricted to medically qualified doctors).
The purpose of this law is twofold. Firstly it ensures that you are treated by whom you think you are being treated by (ie a doctor). Secondarily you can be sure that your practitioner will be regulated (and his/her practice open to scrutiny) by the General Medical Council.
1) Do not be misled by impressive sounding titles or qualifications.
2) If you wish to be treated by a medically qualified and trained surgeon in the UK the vital qualifications they must possess are:
I) MB ChB or MB BS
These are the basic medical degrees which prove a practitioner has graduated from medical school
II) FRCS or MRCS
Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons or Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons.
These extra post-graduate surgical qualification entitles the medically qualified doctor to call themselves a surgeon.
3) It is advisable also to look for:
4) Ask direct questions
5) Be aware that legally you are entitled to be treated and operated upon by non-medically qualified persons. It is your right as a patient to choose the level of practitioner you wish to treat your condition.
6) Be aware that any person offering you treatment should identify their profession in advance and in the case of surgery whether they are either medically qualified doctors or legally entitled to call themselves Surgeons.
If you wish to check the qualitifications of a UK surgeon, the Royal College of Surgeons website also contains useful information please select the highlighted link.