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£60,000 bill for GPs who want to return to practice

Scores of GPs wanting to return to practice after a career break are having to fork out up to £60,000 from their own pockets because training funding has dried up.

GP returners are also having to work for free for months on end as a result of Government cuts to flexible careers funding and deanery budgets.

In the Wessex deanery alone, 50 GPs are being obstructed in their efforts to return to work. In London around 40 GPs have suffered the same problems in the past six months. Most of the GPs affected are women, many of whom are trying to return to work after having children.

After four years out to raise her three children, Dr Karen Anderson wanted to return to work, only to be told funding for refresher courses had been withdrawn by the Severn and Wessex deanery.

She said: 'Despite the NHS saying it recognises the importance of a work-life balance, we're in a Catch 22 situation.

'In order to be on the PCT's performers list, we have to do the training course, but there

is no course in existence here.'

Dr Nigel Watson, chair of Wessex LMCs, said several GPs in his region were working for months on no pay and were

also paying the training grant, which is usually funded by deaneries.

He said: 'This is an appalling situation. We are importing doctors from Europe when there are British trained GPs trying desperately to re-enter the profession.'

Dr Rebecca Viney, who runs the returner scheme at the north London deanery, said it was the cheapest way to recruit GPs. She said: 'This is a huge issue. Some GPs have not been out of the loop for very long and it wouldn't take much to refresh their skills.

'These people also tend to stay in the area where they re-train, unlike registrars who often move away, so it really is money well spent.'

Dr Vicky Weeks, chair of the GPC's sessional GPs subcommittee, said potential returners now faced a situation of 'pay for yourself, or not come back'.

She said: 'Having to self-

fund or work for free provides no incentive.'

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