Essentials for later career and retired GPs

There is a lot to consider as you approach the later stages of your career, including planning for your retirement. 

We have compiled a list of essential information and links to further guidance below, having taken into consideration many of the frequently asked questions members have at this time in their career.


Returning to general practice | COVID-19

Guidance on returning to general practice during the COVID-19 crisis is available on a dedicated web page

Later Career and Retired Members Chair - Mona Aquilina - has also written about returning to general practice during COVID-19.  

Retirement and Life membership

If you are considering retiring or have already retired, there is no need to end your relationship with the RCGP. The following options are available: 

Retired membership 

If you have fully retired and relinquished your licence to practice and no longer participate in the annual appraisal cycle, you will get a 75% discount on our full membership fee

Life membership 

Alternatively you can apply for Life membership by paying a lump sum equal to three times the full annual subscription fee for the current membership year. Life membership payments are tax deductible, provided payment is made during the retirement year while still in employment.

If you have reached 40 years continuous membership or are age 70 by 1 April, you will automatically be awarded Life Membership or Life Associateship. No further membership fees will be due.

Associate and lapsed memberships

If you're a fully GMC registered medical practitioner and have completed vocational training for general practice, but have not passed the MAP or MRCGP assessments, then Associate membership is the option for you. If you are a lapsed member you can apply for reinstatement. 


You may wish to apply for Fellowship,  looking at a summation of your career in General Practice.

RCGP awards fellowship in recognition of a significant contribution to medicine, and general practice in particular. Fellows are ambassadors for RCGP.

Fellowship is an honour and mark of achievement recognising a significant contribution to:

  • health and welfare of the community
  • science or practice of medicine
  • aims of RCGP, or any organisation which benefits general practice.

Taking a career break

If you are considering taking a career break from general practice or you are returning to practice in the UK after a period away, the BMA have a web page dedicated to providing career break advice for GPs. 

Joining or returning to NHS general practice in England

It is possible to enter or return to NHS general practice later in your career or after a period of retirement. 

The NHS GP Induction and Refresher (I&R) Scheme is designed to provide a safe, supported and direct route for qualified GPs to join or return to NHS general practice.

The scheme can be tailored to meet your needs, experiences and personal commitments and also includes financial support.

It is available to: 

UK trained GPs returning to the UK from working or volunteering abroad
UK trained GPs taking a gap of over 2 years from clinical work as NHS GP
GPs from abroad

Support if you're seriously considering leaving general practice

There is support available if you are seriously considering leaving general practice through the National GP Retention Scheme. The scheme is a package of financial and educational support to help doctors, in England, who might otherwise leave the profession, remain in clinical general practice.

The scheme is open to doctors who meet ALL of the following criteria:

1. Where a doctor is seriously considering leaving or has left general practice (but is still on the National Medical Performers List) due to:

a. Personal reasons – such as caring responsibilities for family members (children or adults) or personal health reasons OR 

b. Approaching retirement OR

c. Require greater flexibility in order to undertake other work either within or
outside of general practice.

2. And when a regular part-time role does not meet the doctor’s need for flexibility, for example the requirement for short clinics or annualised hours.

3. And where there is a need for additional educational supervision. For example, a newly qualified doctor needing to work 1-4 sessions a week due to caring responsibilities or those working only 1-2 sessions where pro-rata study leave allowance is inadequate to maintain continuing professional development and professional networks.   

Changing your status on the GMC register and giving up or restoring your licence to practice or registration

Care should be given when changing your status on the GMC register and giving up or restoring your licence to practice or registration. 
If you provide medical services you need a licence to practice - this may include jobs that do not involve direct patient contact. 
It is important to check the GMC guidelines and seek advice from your current responsible officer before giving up your licence. 

Leaving or changing your status on the Performer's List

Leaving the Performer's List

Coming off the Performer’s List can be much easier than getting back on. If there is any chance at all that you will wish to see patients in the future, consider remaining as a locum whilst you think about your options. The decision-making process may be difficult so discussions with friends, colleagues, your appraiser or LMC may be helpful.

Primary Care Support England's Performers Lists web page provides further information.  

Making a change 

To change your status (e.g. from locum to salaried), registered address or place of work on the Performers List download the National performers lists change notification form.

Support if you undertake a low volume of NHS general practice clinical work

If you undertake a low volume of NHS clinical GP work, a guidance document is available from NHS England: Supporting doctors who undertake a low volume of NHS General Practice clinical work 

This includes information on appraisals and the form to complete if you are undertaking less than 40 NHS GP sessions per year. 

An article detailing this process can also be found on the BMA blog The Practice.

Computer system tutorials for freelance GP locums

The National Association of Sessional GPs host a series of online video tutorials about various GP computer systems to support those working as freelance GP locums.  

Advice on pensions

The key resource for information and advice on pensions is the BMA pensions web pages

Contact your BMA Local Medical Committee (LMC)

BMA Local Medical Committees (LMCs) are local committees of NHS GPs which represent their interests, in their localities, to the NHS health authorities.

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