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

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