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GP returners to get £2,300 a month in new scheme

Clearer route and greater support – plus bursary – for GPs returning after career breaks

Louise Prime

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

GPs who want to return to practice in England after taking a career break will now have a clearer route and greater support in doing so safely, as well as being offered a £2,300 a month bursary, following today’s launch of a new national ‘returners’ scheme. GP leaders said this morning that the initiative will contribute to the increase in the GP workforce that is so urgently needed.

The Induction and Refresher scheme is backed jointly by the Royal College of General Practitioners, NHS England, Health Education England and the BMA. The programme is designed to provide an opportunity for GPs – who have previously been on the GMC Register and on the NHS England National Performers List (NPL) – to rejoin the workforce after they’ve taken a career break, for reasons such as to work abroad or care for their family. It will also support those GPs who qualified overseas, and who have no previous NHS experience, to be safely introduced to UK general practice.

The new scheme, which will standardise schemes that already exist, will provide doctors with a consistent, single point of contact, via the GP National Recruitment Office, to guide them through the system. Returning doctors will be given a supervised placement in general practice that is tailored to their needs, to ensure they have the confidence and knowledge needed to be a GP. Participants in the scheme will also be offered a £2,300 per month bursary.

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker (pictured) said: “It costs nearly £250,000 to train a GP so it is an absolute travesty for patients and a huge waste of public money if we then lose them to the profession as a result of red tape and outdated regulations ...

“GPs take career breaks for a number of reasons, perhaps to work abroad or to raise their family, and in many cases they want to return to general practice in the UK – but they are deterred by the red tape and bureaucratic hoops that they have to jump through.”

She said that by making it easier for GPs to return to the profession, the scheme was a “step in the right direction” towards the College’s goal of boosting GP numbers by 10,000 by 2020 to safeguard patient care. She said: “If people know that the process is to be simplified and streamlined across the country, there will be many more trained GPs who would consider returning to frontline patient care in the UK, helping to ease the intense workforce and workload pressures currently facing general practice.”

Chair of the BMA’s GP committee Dr Chaand Nagpaul added: “The announcement of a new, properly funded induction and refresher scheme … will be helpful to those who have had to take career breaks, particularly those who have taken time away to raise a family or decided to gain experience by working abroad. With a workforce that is increasingly looking for flexibility, this has the potential to be extremely beneficial and will hopefully overcome the huge bureaucratic and time consuming obstacles that currently prevent perfectly competent GPs from returning to work in the UK.”

Picture credit: Grainge Photography for the RCGP.

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