This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

CAMHS won't see you now

5,000 GPs prevented from returning to workforce by 'red tape', says the RCGP

More than 5,000 doctors who have emigrated or chosen to take early retirement are unable to return to the GP workforce as a result of ‘red tape’, the RCGP has claimed.

The college has identified 5,229 GPs under the age of 50 who have left general practice in the past five years, including more than 3,000 GPs under the age of 40.

But it says that these doctors are unable to return to general practice even if they wanted to as a result of rules governing the eligibility of GPs to practise in the UK being interpreted in a ‘bureaucratic’ way.

This is effectively ‘disbarring’ them from the GP workforce and exacerbating the crisis in general practice, the college claims.

It comes after the GP taskforce report recommended a fully funded returners programme, while Pulse revealed that around 5,000 doctors a year were considering moving abroad to practise.

The college, along with the BMA, has written to NHS England calling for the regulations of the performers list to be applied with more flexibility in a bid to remove barriers for GPs wanting to return to practise in the UK.

Earlier in year, the RCGP held talks with NHS England over the possibility of allowing GPs to remain on the performers list to tackle the GP recruitment crisis – proposing that GPs could have their annual appraisal while in another country, possibly via Skype.

According to the RCGP, during the last five years for which figures are available, 5,229 GPs under 50 left the GP workforce – 3151 of them under 40.

Both the RCGP and the BMA have said that while they accept that checks need to be carried out to ensure GPs remain competent to treat patients in the UK, they are concerned that the current rules are effectively stopping thousands of trained GPs from treating patients.

The college highlighted the case of Dr Dave Berger, who had been practising abroad for two years and told in a letter from NHS England that he would be removed from the performers list because he had not completed at least one clinical session in England during the previous 18 months and would need to complete the returner’s scheme assessment and associated training.

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said it is ‘nonsensical’ that GPs are being blocked by red tape in the midst of a recruitment crisis.

Dr Baker said: ‘It seems nonsensical that at a time when we have a chronic shortage of GPs and patients are having to wait longer and longer for a GP appointment that we have a ready-made taskforce of GPs who are being effectively barred from caring for patients because of red tape and an arcane set of rules.’

‘The inflexible way in which these rules are being interpreted is even more short sighted when a large number of the doctors affected have been working in medical settings abroad so their clinical skills are up to date, and many say that the care they can provide to patients has improved as a result of their experiences.’

She said that such an interpretation of the rules is harming patient care.

She added: ‘We understand that NHS England have their job to do and it is imperative that doctors’ skills are relevant and fit for purpose, but we cannot allow bureaucracy to get in the way of common sense – especially when there are consequences for our patients.’

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA’s GP committee, added: ‘To help begin to tackle this crisis, the BMA is calling on NHS England and Health Education England to fully implement the recent GP Taskforce recommendations calling for a fully funded returner programme, prioritising the funding for GP returners to train in under-doctored areas.’

‘This will help get competent GPs who have taken a short career break to get back into the workforce, particularly those who have taken time out to bring up a family.’


Related images

  • Dr Maureen baker - online

Readers' comments (8)

  • Patients are being harmed by this. We need to urgently:
    1) Scrap revalidation - this is the worst of the bureaucratic red tape. Reform the GMC in the process.
    2) Unify the performers list system - we live on a small island and you can drive across most of the country in under 5 hours, having separate working areas is absurd.
    3) Audit the damage done to patients by revalidation in terms of lost clinical time.
    4) Audit the financial beneficiaries of the medical regulation industry. Find who has taken money.
    5) Hold those responsible accountable for any damage they have caused.
    6) Reinvest resources from the above in patient care and sponsoring the delivery of medical education so it is easier for doctors to advance their skills.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Nice 09 00. Completly agree .
    And pigs might start flying

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Took Early Retirement

    I like it 0900.

    I also wonder how many of these 5,000 GPs quoted would actually WANT to come back? 1? 2?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Una Coales

    5,000 GPs prevented from returning to the NHS workforce or 5,000 GPs glad to get away from the NHS and emigrate to Australia, New Zealand and Canada? Double speak?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • In New Zealand the lovely UK gps we have here speak of your rules at home in the same way East Germans did of the stasi. They are so glad to be here and we only need 1000 .... come, come ... ski and surf in the same day and let your children grow up running on the grass not concrete....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • as the global demographics change and developing countries get richer there is going to be a global shortage of healthcare professionals. soon the world will really be your oyster so let the leadership experiment as much as they like - with boundless opportunities no GP should go starving.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • ironically this measure may send more GPs out as they know they can get back any time.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This is so true.
    I tried to rejoin General Practice last year. I could get no funding help whatsoever and the hurdles, hoops and red tape were a tangled Everest. I just couldn't be bothered in the end. I am due to lose my License to Practice next week so that's that. I hate revalidation. It's a complete insult.
    How I long for the days when you could just go and do a few locums in a friendly supportive practice and then fly solo again.
    Most of my female colleagues from medical school don't practice at all any more. Why didn't they utilise us in part time interesting jobs when we had young families. I would have loved to have worked at some kind of mid level in A&E or practically any hospital job, but it was never really possible. The whole system is stupid. Think of the expertise of these doctors would have after a few years. This potential has been wasted as there were no jobs like that for us. Some of us went into Genral Practice even though we didn't like it as it was easier to fit round a family. But that has become so unappealing now that we don't even want to do that. I doubt I'll work in medicine again and yet I love medicine. I mean medicine though, ie genuinely sick patients who respect you, are polite and grateful. Nurses and managers who treat you as if you deserve respect and have some authority.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say