Principles for a new scheme to get GPs who have left the country or taken a career break back into practice were agreed in May by officials from the RCGP, the GPC, NHS England, the Medical Defence Union, the Women’s Medical Federation, and two local education and training boards. Health Education England is also contributing to the process.
A set of proposals to reduce the barriers to re-entering the profession and help ease workforce pressures include making it easier for GPs who move abroad to come back to practice here by having remote appraisals to demonstrate they are up to date.
Chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker said she want mechanisms to allow GPs working abroad to rejoin the performers' list, as well as supported places in practices t povide returner or refresher training.
Pool of GPs to recruit
The college believes there is a ‘substantial pool’ of GPs who can be recruited back into the workforce.
The proposals call for a ‘safe proportionate process, based on risk stratification and informed by educational needs of the individual’, with a range of assessment options used in accordance with a GP’s circumstances and needs.
Proactive careers support would be provided for GPs planning to take time out of clinical practice, and unnecessary barriers to returning removed.
The workforce proposals said investment already made in training should be maximised by encouraging GPs to return, calling for incentives to bring doctors back into practice.
‘It was agreed that incentives are required to bring doctors back into the UK workforce, the value of medical care represented by these doctors being far greater than the cost of retraining. Practice placements must be funded and a consistent funding arrangement established as a first priority,’ a document setting out the workforce proposals reveals.
There was, the RCGP said, a ‘strong case for return on investment funding for returner schemes’.
Return on investment
Dr Baker told GP the approach was about stratifying returners according to risk and developing more pragmatic options for their return.
'We've tried to say it is much more appropriate to treat people according to their circumstances and that a GP who is in ongoing clinical practice in another country is probably in a different situation from someone who hasn't worked for five years.'
She said the two biggest groups of potential returners were those working abroad and those on career breaks, often for family reasons.
'We are trying to say might there be mechanisms for someone to rejoin the performers list while they are abroad, to let them apply for jobs directly, so they know where they are going, which is a lot more attractive.
'And also, how can we provide supported places in practices for people who do need returner or refresher training. And then, what is the most appropriate method of assessment, if indeed an assessment needs to take place.'
The college said it would work with the other organisations to implement the agreed principles.