Returning to work in the UK as a sessional GP

Arbitrary time frames surrounding career breaks can be discriminatory and require review

Location: UK
Last reviewed: 29 September 2021
doctors mess

In August 2021, a member came to the BMA to ask for help with her return to work in the UK.

Following a period working abroad, the member intended to return to her GP career via the portfolio route, but was denied permission because of the following predetermined eligibility criteria: ‘Any career breaks (such as maternity or other personal or statutory leave) from clinical practice in the 10-year period do not exceed three years in total and do not exceed 15 months in the three years immediately preceding application.'

Due to the member taking two maternity leave breaks within the three years before her application to be reinstated as a GP in the UK, she was denied permission to an induction and refresher scheme as part of the portfolio route. She recognised this as potentially discriminatory and contacted the sessional GPs committee, who escalated her case to the relevant BMA teams. 

The BMA promptly set up a meeting with Health Education England, NHS Employers and the Royal College of GPs to discuss the case. It was agreed that the presence of an arbitrary time frame of this kind within the portfolio route needed to be reviewed, which will happen as part of the ongoing medical performers list review.  

Subsequently, it was agreed that the wording of the eligibility criteria should be amended to: ‘Any career breaks (such as maternity or other personal or statutory leave) from clinical practice in the 10-year period do not exceed three years in total and do not exceed 15 continuous months in the three years immediately preceding application. 

This change, negotiated by the BMA, will allow the doctor who raised the query to return to work in the UK via the portfolio route, and any other doctors living abroad experiencing similar situations to do so also.  

If you are experiencing an issue with your return to work, or any workplace or contractual issue, contact the BMA for support via email at [email protected], via telephone on 0300 123 1233 or via webchat with one of our advisors through our website