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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Why I left France to work in the UK

My family moved to London

from France last year. My wife and I saw an advertisement on the European Union website for a private recruitment company claiming to be able to offer us jobs as GPs in London and help us to settle in. We came to England for an informal visit and decided we wanted to work over here. At the time we were both working as GPs in France where we had trained in the 1990s. We were self-employed and doing mostly out-of-hours work.

We felt that by moving to England we could change our lifestyle and see our children growing up. We also wanted the kind of new challenges and experiences a big city like London could offer.

Induction programme

We had to undergo an interview to have our English level checked, a registration process and a six-week induction programme at King's College, London, to understand how the NHS is organised.

The induction programme is made up of a mixture of clinical sessions (first as observer, then under supervision and finally alone) and theoretical sessions covering peer support, medical English and public health needs.

Recently King's College ran its fifth EU induction programme with 10 doctors per session (33 EU doctors are already working as locums, PMS doctors or partners).

At the end of the induction period we were supposed to be ready for work.

Although my wife had studied English in France in preparation, she was not yet confident enough to start work, and was able to carry on her induction programme via the Southwark PCT for another four weeks. She then worked as a locum covering the sabbatical year of a senior lecturer at King's College carrying out research into COPD.

I chose to work as a PMS doctor in Greenwich for a year and then joined another surgery in Plumstead as a partner.

Vive la difference

We have the kind of working environment and support you don't get in France. There was a time where we would have tried to show the similarities between the two systems despite the cultural differences.

Now there are differences because of guidelines and accountability issues as well as the gateway system.

In France GPs have to deal with secondary care while in England general practice is more about primary care. We also found it far more comfortable in the UK where you work with a team (receptionist, secretary, nurses, practice manager, other health professionals).

In France you tend to do the work on your own with a secretary, although you do have 20-minute appointments.

Since we moved here we have bought a house (and discovered market prices!) and moved to London. Our daughter was born in England last February.

As time goes by we have become more familiar with the system. As more new EU doctors are being recruited we keep in touch with them and try to help them settle in and understand how the new system works.

They also have strong one-to-one support from the recruitment company, King's College, their trainers, as well as the 'old inductees'.

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