GPs who have not practised for two years or more, or have been working overseas, can apply for the scheme, developed by RCGP, NHS England, Health Education England and the BMA.
They will be paid a bursary of £2,300 a month and given a supervised placement in a GP practice for a maximum of six months full-time, as part of a ‘tailored’ assessment and induction programme.
Practices where the supervised placements are taking place will be paid a monthly placement fee of £645.92.
The scheme also targets overseas GPs with no NHS experience who want to work in the UK.
The scheme is part of the 10-point workforce action plan aiming to boost recruitment, retention and returning GPs. The GP National Recruitment Office will be the single point of contact for GPs to access the scheme.
RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘Today’s announcement is a welcome step in the right direction.’
GPs are often reluctant to return to work because of the ‘red tape and bureaucratic hoops that they have to jump through’, she said.
‘We are confident that 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.’
GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘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.’
A similar six-month scheme has been launched in Wales, although the level of financial support available has not been announced.
GPs on the Welsh medical performers list who decide to work abroad will also be able to remain on the list for up to five years, meaning they would not have to take part in an induction and refresher scheme on returning.
Dr David Bailey, deputy chairman of GPC Wales, told GP he welcomes the announcement.
‘We’re very positive about it – we’ve been talking to Welsh government about it for some time,’ he said. ‘We think that it’s a very sensible thing to be doing.
‘Up until recently, it’s been a one-size-fits-all approach in terms of returners, which restricts people coming back. This scheme will provide more flexibility, which is a terribly important thing to maximise the number of people coming back into the profession,' he said.