Letter of the week: Returner guidance is unfair to female GPs
As a long-standing member of RCGP Council, I am appalled at the new recommendations requiring returners to undergo assessment after short-term absences (‘GPs should undergo "robust" assessment if away from work for more than three months, say royal colleges').
The RCGP should distance itself. There may be an issue with the length of time doctors can be absent from practice before their skills are affected, but the report itself says there is little evidence in this area.
I completed a thesis on medical workforce and ran the first Return to Practice course for doctors in the UK and I am not aware of any evidence that doctors returning from maternity leave, for instance, pose a danger to patients.
If implemented, these proposals will significantly disadvantage female GPs. Patient safety is of paramount importance, but safety is far more likely to be threatened by a shortage of doctors than by short absences. I will be calling on the RCGP to reject these ill-considered recommendations from the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges.
From Dr Maureen Baker, Lincoln