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GPs go forth

Government formally launches 'NHS needs you' campaign for retired GPs

An ‘The NHS needs you’ campaign is launching today, urging more than 65,000 former doctors and nurses - including 5,000 GPs - to return to work to support the efforts against coronavirus.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has taken the step to officially contact them, following the GMC’s prelude that it would be addressing those who fall under its remit

Medics who left the profession within the last three years, but still have ‘up to date skills and experience’, will receive contact from their regulator, such as the GMC, over the next few days, about re-registering. 

However, it has been stressed that those considered vulnerable to coronavirus will not be expected to participate. Recent leavers, including retirees, will be surveyed on the type of role most applicable to them, be it over the phone or NHS 111, although there is the option of them conducting face-to-face work. 

Those eligible can ‘opt in’ to a register specifying if they would prefer non-clinical roles, which is also dependent on their skillset and how long has passed since they last practiced.

Mr Hancock said: ‘To further boost the ranks of our NHS, we are now turning to people who have recently left the healthcare professions who can bring their experience and expertise to our health system.

‘They can play a crucial role in maximising our capacity to fight this outbreak – and wherever they can help, they will be hugely welcomed.

‘This continues to be a huge national effort to protect lives and protect our NHS, and I urge everyone to continue following the latest medical advice.’

Members of the ‘NHS army’ will be given a full induction and online training prior to re-joining the workforce.

Covid-19, of which there are currently 3,269 confirmed cases in the UK, is being described as the ‘greatest global health threat’ in a century.

Final year medical students and student nurses are also being offered the chance to take temporary, fully-paid roles to further boost NHS capacity. 

Pulse spoke to a retired GP who has already been asked by practices to return to work. Dr Farah Saad, 66, of north London, last practiced in 2018. She said: ‘I will help over the phone, but I won’t come into a practice’.

Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS' national medical director, added: ‘It is only right we use every means at our disposal to bolster the frontline in the face of this unprecedented challenge for the NHS.

‘By offering to return to the NHS now, these thousands of well-qualified and compassionate people will make more of a difference than ever before – not just to patients, but to colleagues and the wider community.’

Medical defence organisation MDDUS has also automatically reinstated free-of-charge support to the membership profile of all its retired doctors who left practice within the last three years.

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty is also leading new TV adverts, as the Government devises new public-facing campaigns to reach more of the population. Launching yesterday, they aim to explain the evolving guidance in layman’s terms.

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Readers' comments (28)

  • I’d say stay away- you’ve done your bit- it’s actually not safe!
    They want us GPs visiting the sick Covid cases-
    I have experienced this today-( LONDON GP)
    A pregnant patient, high fever and short of breath- couldn’t get a response from 111 yesterday and finally they told her to call her GP. I visited her this morning- assessed her: temp 39.5. sats 94 p 106-
    I Even did bloods- got them back a few hours later.....
    CRP 110 with normal white cell count- was sure it was Covid
    Discussed with med registrar in local big LONDON hospital - “ send her to A&E they’ll triage and call me if we’re needed”- I was gob snacked- pretty sure you’ll be needed mate! I called A&E- to confirm this was the right route....- it was! they have a red and a green zone and she could “go wait in the red zone”. The 999 ambulance call to send her to A&E had us on hold for 1 hour and 45 minutes. I then had to leave to see the next patient- she sent me a message that’s she’s still in A& E waiting to be seen having taken a taxi as couldn’t get through to blue light 999 ambulance! This is the reality! The service is not functioning- god help anyone having a stroke- never mind Covid death rates - what are cardiovascular death rates??? No one left to do normal stuff- all overwhelmed already!

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  • I find this really difficult. As has been said, for the last 5 years of my career they set up special sites (Nhs choices) to slang off practices, they started prosecuting drs for manslaughter when the system was inadequate, the press accused us of being lazy and overpaid, they insisted we take all patients who wanted to register so our quality of service declined to the point at which complaints increased. They set up systems to tax us for saving for retirement.
    Now I'm being asked if I'd like ti go back please. I'll be 60 in 2 weeks and this was the threshold in some Italian hospitals (I believe?) for declining ventilation.
    On the other hand, there is a tiny bit of duty and responsibility left niggling at me!! I'll wait and se what develops.

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  • Interesting times indeed!! I received the email from GMC and had to read it twice as I couldn't believe my eyes....the tone was cordial and polite, unbelievable! When I tried to relinquish my performer's list and licence to practice, the tone from GMC and NHS Primary Care sounded like I was being fired from a job and would need to beg to the point of sweating blood if I have to beg to come back. And now coronavirus has indeed humbled them.
    Good luck to the retirees who feel the call of duty makes them bound to put their live in line of will be used, dumped and, like grass on a football pitch, uprooted (syn: death) and replaced by another with no tears shed or even your loved ones exposed (loss of pension, pathetic PPE means potentially contracting Covid19 and spreading to your loved ones).
    The government seems to be daydreaming about the younger doctors who have given up their licence. They did so because they have either left the country or found something more profitable outside NHS.....why should they fly back or drop their newly found passion to come back to their tormentors? I am hoping the medical profession does not suffer with Stockholm syndrome.

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    ENT consultant died. They silenced that from us. And no guard of honor.

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  • Cobblers

    Interesting. No email received here. I am told that those of the awkward squad who told the GMC to shove it, whilst not paying the subs have not been invited as they left for administrative reasons and not in good standing.

    Those doctors who paid the leaving fee, filled in the forms and got some worthy to sign to say they had nothing outstanding in the way of complaints left in "Good Standing". These doctors are being invited.

    It matters not that over two years for me have gone by with no hint of scandal which should put put me in good standing. However I didn't pay the leaving fee - Bounder!

    So it's the cardies over the top into the chattering machine gun of the Covid-19. Once this fodder has been chewed up they might invite me!


    Don't laugh, I might, still, consider it. But I would need a Covid-19 IgG, PROPER PPE, and my standard locum Ts&Cs and payments. There would be no negotiation here, I don't need the money, hassle or risk.

    Altruism for the sheople? No. NHS? Don't joke!

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  • Who is paying these retired doctors? Or are they going to be expected to work for free??

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  • Partner apparently eligible but no email by Saturday evening; safe to assume escaped?

    ps. Average age ventilated patients in Italy was 64 years.

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