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Re-registering as a GP has cost me £10k and three months of my life

After returning from Australia, a GP describes the frustrations of getting back on the performers list.

I am in that rare cohort of GP’s, a doctor who is returning to the UK to work. Madness I know but my wife’s job meant we ended up in Australia for a year.

At the advice of NHS England and GMC I was instructed to cancel my membership of the GP performers list and my GMC registration. This was necessary as the new rules dictate that all doctors must have an appraisal yearly (this cannot be done in another country) and you cannot be on the performers list unless you do a minimum number of GP session per year in the UK.

I was told that coming back to the UK and reapplying would be a breeze. How spectacularly wrong that was. Here is my progress so far…

1. I was able to do most of my GMC reapplication abroad – the last bit (ID check) has to be done in person. The whole process for the GMC was painless and quick. A good start.

2. The GP performers list application was another matter entirely. I was instructed at the outset that it would take up to 12 weeks to process and they wouldn’t start the process until I could prove I was living in the UK. Just to reiterate – that is 12 weeks where I would not be able to work. Three months with no pay – a quarter of the year. I’ll leave it to you to work out how much that is, if I see it in writing I might weep.

3. I tried my best to start some of the process in Australia but it was a no go. They wanted two original proofs of UK residency – a UK council tax bill and utility bill or bank account. I was going to be living with my parents for the first couple of weeks whilst we looked for somewhere to live so it would be at least that long before we had rental agreement (which didn’t count anyway). I would then have to wait for the correct forms of ID to come through the post.

4. Once I had that bit of paperwork I could start, or so I thought. They gave me the wrong form to fill in – it was for their new electronic version that doesn’t go live until September. I also need to pay £40 by cheque or postal order, cash or online payments must be too sophisticated, or something.

5. The new electronic system involves typing your answers onto an online form, which you then, er, print out and take in by hand thus saving valuable pen ink. It was obviously too difficult for them to transfer my written answers from the new form (which looks near identical) to the old form so I had to go back to their headquarters and do this. Everything I submitted has to be an original – no scans or photocopies allowed. No idea why as the first thing they do when they see my forms is photocopy them and then hand them back. Clearly they must get a large amount of forgeries to need this extra measure.

6. About mid-September, I phone up to check the forms progress, apparently my references haven’t got back to them yet (obviously too difficult for them to phone up the numbers I left on the form). I phone my references and sort that hurdle out.

7. Start of October. I have had my induction at work since that doesn’t actually involve being a GP so that’s allowed. The performers list team email me and ask can I give them a list of all my house officer jobs? God alone knows why, they are not on my CV as no employer cares about something that long ago. Thankfully I find a very old CV from years ago on my computer that has it on. They also want a certificate of proof that I am on the GP register. I politely inform them that the GMC have this information online and don’t issue certificates, any employer can simply look it up – I email them a screenshot of my GMC online GP register confirmation just in case they haven’t a clue what I am talking about.

8. Currently my application form is sat in another teams office now, its waiting for someone to re-read it and then it will be passed on to the medical director to sign, it gets passed back, emailed back to the first team and they write to me to let me know I can start work. I expect by the time I am finally approved to work this will have cost me at least <deep breath in> £10,000 in lost earnings, more if you count the lost pension contributions etc…

It’s nice to know that GPs returning to the UK are treated so well. Hurrah! A model of NHS efficiency.

GPforhire is based in the north east of England. You can follow him on Twitter @GPforhire

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Readers' comments (22)

  • can you sue for bad advice

    surely coming back from Australia for 2 weeks of locums would have been better or being 'sick' and continuing on GMC register.

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  • The GMC wouldn't let me stay on the register if I was not able to take part in yearly appraisal/revalidation. - GPforhire

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  • I just can't believe how british drs allow themselves to be treated - you take too much. I don't think europeans have the same rules, and although the rules in the states are tough they are very clear.

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  • I went to work in Australia as a GP in 2011 with the intention being that it would be a permanent move. I stayed on the GMC register (in case I decided to come back) but gave up my licence to practice. However life in Oz was not for me so I came home. Fortunately I decided to change to doing emergency medicine. Thank God!

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  • Ridiculous. If you stay on register and do an appraisal then presumably ok though

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  • Spencer Nicholson

    Yet another reason not to return from the lucky country

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  • As far as I know there is no minimum number of sessions needed to stay on the Performers list. To avoid all this hassle a week's stay in the UK UK with a few sessions and appraisal could have been sufficient and far more cheaper!!

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  • I think it's probably unfair to blame politicans - the profession has allowed itself to be completely bogged down with this nonsense - Other doctors in Deaneries and RCGP have brought about many of these changes. Well I am off to another country in the son to do my first stint of a few weeks work to see how i enjoy it - Any guesses.

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  • Labour say they will increase GPs by 10000 and the conservatives by 5000. They will not achieve this by treating us so badly. It is difficult to return to GP from any kind of break, younger GPs are heading abroad, female GPs are leaving in their 40s, recruitment to GP training posts is down by 15%, the NHS pension is becoming less of an incentive, GPs in their 50s are taxed out of the workforce, regulation is out of control, pay is decreasing and workload is unsustainable.

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  • Thanks for sharing this a very valuable insight into an important retention issue.
    Appropriate and timely advice is crucial as is improving administration of systems.
    Supporting those at most risk of isolation on their return is my role- and also needs looking out in other areas.

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