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Retired GPs: GMC and NHS guidance – March

How retired doctors can rejoin the NHS workforce 

What is the GMC doing?

The GMC has contacted 15,000 doctors, including 5,000 GPs, across the UK about granting them temporary registration to return to practice and help the fight against coronavirus. 

It is primarily targeting those who gave up their registration or licence to practise within the last three years but are still considered ‘fully qualified, experienced and of good standing’, with a UK address. 

Those doctors who return to help fight coronavirus will not be required to complete revalidation requirements by the GMC.

Source: GMC, Coronavirus information and advice: Our emergency powers [updated on 25 March] 

What is the NHS doing?

To rejoin the NHS, the health service is asking you to please complete this survey so it can understand how best to use your skills.

The NHS says: ‘We have a large team working as quickly as they can to bring people back. It is important that we take sufficient time to ensure you are matched on an individual basis to where your skills are most needed, so it may take up to a week before you are contacted by a local NHS organisation.

‘If you are based in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, your details will be passed on to the relevant NHS body.’

Source: NHS England, Doctors: Wherever you can help, you’re needed  [accessed on 26 March]

What is NHS England doing?

NHS England has written to GPs on 24 March to let them know how they can help support the GP workforce – including letting people know how they can ask to be temporarily registered on the England Performers List. 

It says: ‘If you haven’t heard from NHS England and NHS Improvement or from the GMC but want to volunteer, please email the team at

‘If you wish to rejoin the GP workforce, please complete the relevant form below and return to’ Forms that need to be filled out to rejoin the GP workforce can be found here. 

The NHS England letter, sent on 24 March, says in more detail:

‘As you may know, the GMC has recently written to all doctors who came off the register within the last three years to ask for support during Covid-19.

‘We are writing to you as our records show that you are a registered GP who has left the Performers List but remain registered with the GMC, to ask whether there is any additional support you could offer at this time.

‘As well as work in traditional practice settings, we need more doctors to help staff phone lines and provide video consultations; and to work in a variety of other settings that do not require face to face patient contact.

‘As a qualified and experienced GP who has either temporarily or permanently left the NHS, your colleagues and local community are in urgent need of your support to join the fight against Covid-19 in a number of different ways that don’t have to involve frontline care……

‘….You can choose how much time you contribute and are free to stop working at any point. Your contract will reflect standard terms and conditions such as working hour protections, pay arrangements, and annual leave entitlement….

‘….If you have capacity and wish to offer your support to the Covid-19 response service working within primary care, in addition to GMC registration you will need to be reincluded on the England Medical Performers List. In order to do this please could we ask you to complete the short form we have developed (attached) and return it to

‘This will allow us to get you back onto the List as an Emergency Registered Practitioner. We aim to approve your application within 24 hours to enable you to be available to offer support at the earliest opportunity. When you have received your confirmation of inclusion on the List you will be able to work immediately.

‘We want to make sure that if you volunteer to support the NHS at this time that we can agree with you where you can best offer your expertise. In the first instance, we would like to direct any time you can offer into supporting the national NHS Covid-19 Response Service, where there is currently an urgent need for additional capacity. Supporting the service will be done remotely, by telephone or online, from home……..’

Source: NHS England, GP returners [updated on 26 March]

Training resources and support for returning GPs

NHS England is developing training modules, which can be found here.

It has also set up a peer support network for people to speak with colleagues for advice. 

Source: NHS England, GP returners [updated on 26 March]

FAQs about returning to the GP workforce 

NHS England has answered a series of questions for doctors, including:

What will I be paid?

During the emergency period, you should be paid on the appropriate contract for the role you are fulfilling, providing you return to the same level of responsibility.

All staff who return to work in the NHS will be paid the substantive rate for their role. The actual amount and the frequency will be confirmed by your employer.

Will I receive the same pay I received when I retired?

If you return to the NHS after retirement you should be paid on the pay point which is no lower than the pay point before you retired. Remuneration for GP work will be benchmarked to similar work and prevailing salary levels.

What if I have not retired, but just left the NHS?

If you have not retired, but left NHS employment, you will be paid at the top of the appropriate pay scale for the role you are filling. If you return to work in roles covered by NHS national terms and conditions of service, the actual amount and the frequency will be confirmed by your employer.

What are the pension payment arrangements?

The government is bringing forward emergency legislation in response to the Covid-19 outbreak that contains important information on pension arrangements for extra NHS staff. It provides for the suspension of the 16-hour rule which currently prevents staff who return to work after retirement from the 1995 NHS Pension Scheme from working more than 16 hours per week, in the first four weeks after retirement. It also provides for:

  • The suspension of both the abatement for special class status holders in the 1995 Scheme
  • The requirement for staff in the 2008 Section and 2015 NHS Pension Scheme to reduce their pensionable pay by 10% if they elect to ‘draw down’ a portion of their benefits and continue working.

Taken together, these measures will allow skilled and experienced staff who have recently retired from the NHS to return to work, and retired staff who have already returned to work to increase their commitments if required, without having their pension benefits suspended.

Will I have insuranace and indemnity cover? 

Yes – arrangements are already in place to indemnify any professional working in a hospital trust or GP practice.

If I opt to see patients remotely, does this affect my indemnity?

Many doctors might have to consult with patients remotely more frequently than normal. In making the decision to consult and advise patients remotely, doctors must balance the risks and benefits and be satisfied that they can adequately clinically assess the patient remotely. Medical defence organisations (MDOs) advise doctors to make a record of the reasoning behind any decisions made and the information they give to patients in case they need to explain the approach they’ve taken later on.

Will I receive an induction process?

Yes – you will receive a fast track induction that will cover key mandatory training requirements, as well as more specific guidance, for example, on the management of coronavirus and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Some of this would be led by NHS employers. There would also be ward/departmental level induction. If you are a GP, the provider or practice where you are deployed will be responsible for providing you with the necessary induction and clinical supervision, dependent on your individual requirements.

Will I need to learn new skills?

Fast-track induction processes are being developed locally. This will include refreshing on old skills, such as death certification and prescribing, as well as new skills such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) training. If you are a GP, the provider or the practice where you are deployed will be responsible for providing you with the necessary induction.

How long will I be needed for?

You are likely to be needed for a short time period but at this stage, the exact length is unpredictable. You are free to stop working at any point. Contracts are likely to be drawn up for six months with the possibility for extension.

How would I handle patients’ requests for extra medication?

While there are currently no reported medicine shortages as a result of COVID-19, doctors may face requests from patients for extra medication to stockpile. Medical Defence Organisations have advised doctors to resist pressure to overprescribe and to stick to existing policy on repeat prescribing unless they receive official advice stating otherwise.

Source: NHS England, Frequently asked questions for returning doctors [ accessed on 26 March]