Retraining may cost GPs up to £39,000

The National Clinical Assess-ment Service (NCAS) has extended a helping hand to doctors trying to return to the workplace.

Last week it published Back On Track, the first national map to guide doctors with performance concerns, and others who have taken a break, to a safe return to work.  

The document signals hope to doctors and primary care organisations (PCOs) who thought that exclusion on performance grounds spelt the end of a career.  

However, funding for the programme to cover retraining, locums and practice running costs would have to be agreed ‘case by case’, said Professor Alastair Scotland, NCAS director.  

The cost of a six-month placement in a training practice could reach £39,000, the document points out.  

Practitioners would be expec-ted to contribute and some may shoulder the cost alone, although PCOs might offer support.  

Professor Scotland said: ‘There was a myth that if someone was out of practice for a significant amount of time they would never get back.’  

Evidence from NCAS shows that about half of doctors’ difficulties were either overcome or were looking hopeful.  

The framework involves a return-to-work programme, with an improvement plan for the doctor, retraining and, where needed, supervised practice.  

It applies to doctors returning from maternity and sick leave, as well as those who have taken a career break or who have been excluded from practice following local or national performance procedures.  

Professor Scotland said the programme aimed to return practitioners to the job they had left. Tensions for single-handed GPs between that aim and appropriate support and supervision would need to be decided case by case. 

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