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Should retired GPs return to work in the coronavirus crisis?



YES – I would need no retraining, refreshing or re-education 

‘I retired six years ago, still enjoying practice but fed up with pointless bureaucracy. But I love my country and have great affection for the NHS. If needed, I shall certainly help if I can. It will be fascinating to see if the Department of Health and Social Care and the medical powers that be can avoid making such a pig’s ear of re-engaging people that they don’t put everyone off!

I should be most use performing admin tasks in the practice, that release the active GPs to deal with actual patients. All the repeat and requested prescribing could come my way and release an hour a day per GP.

Looking at all incoming lab results, sorting them and phoning patients with results would also be a quick win, as would looking at all incoming letters and highlighting any actions needed from them.

Staff could approach me for advice they felt was within my competence and, at a push, I could deal with incoming phone calls, triaging them – certainly better than any NHS 111 efforts.

If I do admin tasks, I could release an hour a day per GP

When you’re not going to actually see the patient, it’s easy to work within your competence and direct them to visits, appointments, or 111, etc.

I need no retraining, refreshing or re-education to do any of this. Simple in-house instruction in practice policies and current computer systems would suffice, as would NHS indemnity – just in case.

Notice I’m not prepared to see any patients in the flesh, nor to lose any sleep worrying about them…

I also don’t need to be paid (my pension is more than enough to get by on) but if I was, I would donate what I got to charity.

Ideally, practices should be allowed to ‘take on’ their own retired partners, as knowledge of staff, computer systems, working habits and the like will greatly help to make the retiree’s contribution really useful.’

Dr Alistair Moulds is a retired GP in Basildon, Essex, and Pulse’s former medical adviser

eamonn jessup 3 x 2


NO – UK health ministers have done everything in their power to push GPs out of the exit door

‘So, the UK Government seems to have developed a sudden interest in the status of recently retired doctors and bringing them back into the fold of mainstream primary care.

Can you feel the love?

What’s brought about this seeming change of heart in the health secretary’s thinking?

Could it be a sudden Damascene conversion to recognise the worth of a cohort of GPs whose experience often spans decades?

Seemingly, for the last decade, UK health ministers seem to have done everything in their power to push GPs out of the exit door at the earliest opportunity.

Issues like pension reform, bureaucracy, appraisal, revalidation and ‘diplomatisation’ have all conspired to produce a larger cohort leaving than entering our craft.

I suggest this love letter is nothing more than a poorly-thought through panic-driven measure being put forward in response to an increasing possibility that the coronavirus (Covid-19) cannot be stopped from becoming an epidemic in the British Isles.

Putting our oldest colleagues in the front line of Covid-19 is the modern-day equivalent of Dad’s Army in World War Two, except we don’t have any weapons to fight off the invisible invader, whose weapons are especially attracted to the older members of society.

Few facts are known for certain about this virus, but one thing is clear the risk to older cohorts goes up significantly, so putting older doctors in the front line would at face value seem counterintuitive.

So, is it just poorly thought through panic, or is it cleverer than that?

If this becomes a major public health threat, it will be in part due to Government incompetence

Those GPs drawing pensions are an enormous and increasing drain on the public purse and pension funds, might our leaders have seen an answer to two problems at one time? Surely, they could not be that ruthless?

One thing is sure – those GPs still paying their GMC subscription might well be reviewing whether they should still be on the register if there is any thought, they might be called upon to man the front line.

So come on, Dad’s Army GP recruits, time to don the invisible cloak of emotional resilience and man up to take the first hit for the generals.

Our recruiting sergeants will use every trick in the book to make us believe we’re the right ones to be the ‘poor bloody infantry’. If this becomes a major public health threat, it will be at least in part be due to Government incompetence, and I’m not coming behind with the pooper-scooper.’

Dr Eamonn Jessup is a locum GP in North Wales and Northern Ireland. He is planning to retire in the near future