Returning to General Practice in the UK

COVID-19 vaccinators

GMC registered doctors can support the COVID-19 vaccination programme in England without inclusion on the performers list. To contribute to vaccinations in primary care, contact england.primarycareworkforce@nhs.net, providing your name, postcode, GMC number and CCG/PCN details (if known). More information on supporting COVID-19 vaccination.

Doctors with temporary emergency registration

GPs who returned to practice as part of the COVID-19 emergency response will currently be on the GMC’s emergency register. If you wish to remain in practice once the pandemic emergency period comes to an end, you will first need to contact the GMC to permanently restore GMC registration and/or licence to practise. More information can be found on the GMC website. You will then need to complete the specific returner process for your nation as normal.


Welcome to our GP Returners page. We’re delighted that you’ve decided to return to general practice and we wish you every success in this next stage of your career as a family doctor.

If you’ve had a break from working as a general practitioner in the NHS, you will need to discuss the tailored support you may need to return to practice safely (which may include refresher training), with your local Returner team before applying for jobs in general practice.

You may be returning after a career break, raising a family or period of working overseas. You won’t have to pay for refresher training.

The returner process varies a little across the four nations of the UK. Wherever you plan to return to work, we can direct you to the information you need.

All applicants to returner programmes must be on the GMC’s GP Register. If you need advice on this, please write to our GP Specialist Applications team at gpsa@rcgp.org.uk.

Restore your GMC registration

Free Associate Membership of the RCGP

Returners are eligible for one year’s free associate membership of the College, including free access to learning events, the online learning platform and discounts on books and courses. You will receive an invitation to become an Associate member once your place on the Return to Practice Programme is confirmed. 

England and Wales

In order to return to practice in England or Wales, your first step will be to register for the Return to Practice (RtP) Programme with the GP National Recruitment Office which administers the programme for both nations.

The Return to Practice Programme is designed for established GPs who were previously on the National Medical Performers List (NMPL) as an independent practitioner and would like to return to clinical practice.

You can apply to the Return to Practice Programme in a number of ways:

  • The Learning Needs Assessment route involves an initial assessment of multiple choice questions to determine your level of entry to the programme
  • For GP colleagues who have been working overseas or outside the NHS, the Portfolio route involves preparing a portfolio of documents to demonstrate that you have maintained your knowledge and skills while working in family practice overseas
  • The MPL Refresher route is designed to provide a supported return for GPs who have remained on the Performers List, but who have been out of clinical practice. It uses the learning needs assessment to identify the appropriate level of support. (This route only operates in England)
  • The Emergency Registered Practitioner (ERP) returner programme is designed for GPs who have already returned to clinical practice on a temporary basis as part of the COVID-19 emergency response. It provides a more streamlined return route, which takes into account the additional work the GP has undertaken during the COVID-19 response. (This route only operates in England)

Contact your local Health Education England lead for advice.

Visit the GP National Recruitment Office website for more information about the various routes and the financial support available for returners. Specific information on support available in Wales can be found via the Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) website.

Scotland

If you are returning to general practice in Scotland, you will need to complete the Scotland GP Returner Programme

There is no entry test for the programme. However, you will have a discussion with your Advisor and an educational needs assessment to confirm eligibility and the length of your placement. To start the process, you should register an expression of interest by completing the form on the Scotland Deanery website.

Northern Ireland

You will need to apply to the Performers List (NIPMPL) at the start of the process and then register with NIMDTA who runs the GP Induction and Refresher Scheme. If you are eligible for the scheme, and once you have conditional inclusion on the Performers List, you can begin your placement.

Full details of the process and guidance documents are on the NIMDTA website

In Northern Ireland, the Portfolio Route is also an option.

Essential Knowledge Updates

The Essential Knowledge Updates (EKU) are published every four months, providing updates in key clinical areas and best practice in primary care. These resources are currently free to all; you will need to register with an account to access them.

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