Exclusive: Half of GPs who obtained overseas work permit in past six years remain in UK

Nearly half of GPs who applied between 2009 and 2014 for certificates to work overseas are likely still to be working in the UK, data from the GMC suggest.

GMC: data reveal many doctors remain in UK despite overseas permit (Photo: JH Lancy)
GMC: data reveal many doctors remain in UK despite overseas permit (Photo: JH Lancy)

Emigration remains a huge concern for UK general practice, and along with retirements, burnout and poor uptake of training posts continues to pose a threat to plans to recruit 5,000 new GPs by 2020.

A GPonline survey this month revealed that more than half of practices have lost a GP in the past 12 months to retirement or emigration.

Latest data from the GMC show that between 1 January and 10 August 2015, 500 GPs applied for a certificate of current professional status - a document often used to register and practice in another country.

The figure - for just over seven months of 2015 - looks broadly in line with the number of certificates issued in recent years. Just over 800 a year were issued by the GMC in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

GP emigration

But the GMC says that not all doctors who apply for a certificate of current professional status are planning to emigrate. Many work abroad temporarily for experience and return to UK general practice.

If a GP is registered and 'connected to a designated body' - an essential step for taking part in revalidation - this is a 'good indication that a doctor is still working in the UK', the regulator believes.

In the years 2009 to 2014, 4,419 GPs were issued a certificate of current professional status. Of these, 2,118 (48%) are still registered with the GMC and connected to a designated body.

Certificates of current professional status - previously known as certificates of good standing - show that no fitness to practise proceedings are currenly underway or contemplated.

GMC data on GPs issued certificates of current professional status (CCPS):

Year Number of GPs issued CCPS Number currently registered Number currently connected to a designated body
2009 562 383 226
2010 632 470 280
2011 715 579 298
2012 828 710 367
2013 860 758 421
2014 822 774 526
2015* 500 494 409

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