Doctors have been telling their stories of returning to general practice as a national drive to boost numbers and tackle shortages was stepped up today.
So far nearly 800 doctors have applied to return to work as GPs – often working part-time – and NHS England says the number could be doubled.
About 300 of the 800 are already in practice. They include a part-time vicar and a public health consultant.
The Reverend Dr Anne Kazich is now a part-time GP in Skelmersdale as well as continuing her work in the Church of England. She had left medicine in 2012 to seek ordination as a priest.
She said: “I always felt my ministry was not just within the church but with people, so in 2017 I decided to return to medicine. Coming back to general practice felt like coming home. As I have a passion for healing and holistic approach, I’m glad because two vocations have come together in a way I would have never dreamed of.”
Dr Nicky Cleave, aged 50, left general practice at the age of 30 to become a public health consultant – but now spends two days a week as a GP in Dorset.
She said: “I didn’t think it was feasible to return after being away so long but I was pleasantly surprised by what was on offer from the returner scheme in terms of support. Initially I found it very full on, but If I can do it, anyone can. It is hard work but it’s very rewarding. It’s a great challenge.”
Dr Kevin Weaver, aged 61, returned to work as a locum two days a week after taking early retirement six years ago to care for his wife.
He said: “I’m very glad that I came back because not a day goes by when I don’t get great feedback from patients. It’s highly rewarding. I don’t think I would have come back without the scheme. It provided financial support, a clinical placement and an educational supervisor. It equips you for coming back, because things have changed over the last 6 years.”
The scheme for returners has won the approval of senior GPs from the Royal College of GPs and the British Medical Association.
Professor Simon Gregory, Director and Dean of Education and Quality, Midlands and East and GP Lead for Health Education England said: “We are really pleased the revamped Induction and Refresher Scheme has proved so popular. It’s important that GPs who have careers breaks can safely and confidently return to practice and feel supported in doing so. The changes made to the scheme in recent years have made a huge difference and it has been great to welcome so many colleagues back and caring for patients.”