Later career and retired members during COVID-19

4 April 2020

I am writing as Chair of the RCGP ‘Later Career and Retired Members’ Group. This group was set up a year ago to help later career GPs in their transition to retirement and to encourage GPs fully retired from clinical practice to remain engaged with the RCGP and continue to contribute their expertise and wisdom to primary care work.

Little did we know that we would be catapulted back into the heart of NHS because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I wish to say thank you for the amazing response from GPs who have retired from clinical work who have volunteered to return. This includes GPs who have left more than three years ago but who wish to use their experience to provide practical and emotional support.

The following have been identified from potential returnees, specific to their needs:

  • Good induction especially with new IT systems
  • Clinical teaching updates
  • Access to support within the workplace (even or especially if working remotely)
  • Practicalities of placement needing to be as smooth and unbureaucratic as possible
  • Recognition that returners will need to set their own pace of work.

There are other learning needs that have been identified but these are not specific to returning GPs. These includes COVID-19 updates, use of PPE and the ethical issues arising from dealing with a pandemic.

The RCGP website has excellent COVID-19 resources. This includes a dedicated membership forum where ideas can be exchanged.

I worked in full time practice in South London for 30 years. After retirement from frontline work I remained engaged with general practice through mentoring, teaching and RCGP ‘later career’ work. I and many others are now returning as emergency registered practitioners.

Worried relatives and friends have reacted with a mixture of admiration and horror at the thought of their loved ones returning to frontline practice. No-one should volunteer unless the prospect of returning to work gives them a feeling of heart lift. Some trepidation is realistic and natural - with the right support, returning to work would be safe and life enhancing. The experience of an older generation of GPs should enhance the workplace. 

Post written by

Dr Mona Aquilina

Dr Aquilina is the Chair of the RCGP Later Career and Retired Members Group and is a General Medical Practitioner and GP educator based in London.

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