Retired doctor standing in front of younger health colleagues

RCGP: Returning retired GPs are a resource being underutilised

Chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), Professor Martin Marshall, has called on the health service to better utilise retired GPs who have returned to the frontline to bolster Covid-19 efforts.

Following pleas for support by the NHS and health sector, retired health professionals – including GPs – offered their services and returned to the frontlines in their numbers. Many of these individuals have extensive career experience and skill to offer.

However, there are some who have since reported being unable to best utilise their skills in the tasks they’re assigned, or being deterred or slowed down by lengthy documentation requests, some of which has limited relevance to the tasks they’ll be undertaking.

In response, Professor Marshall and the RCGP have called on the Government and health service to work together to reduce some of these limitations and deterrents where appropriate, and better utilise the skills they have on offer from returning retired GPs – particularly given the recent approval of the Oxford vaccine, which can be administered in the community in settings such as GP practices.

Professor Marshall said: “Recently retired GPs - and other healthcare professionals - signed up in droves to help with efforts to tackle the Covid-19 vaccination programme. These are people with huge amounts of skill and experience to offer, yet in many cases, this valuable resource is being underutilised.

“We’ve just had the fantastic news that the Oxford vaccine for COVID-19 has been approved by the MHRA. This will be a game changer in escalating the scale and pace at which GPs, our teams and colleagues across the NHS can vaccinate patients against this dreadful virus. But we won’t be able to do it alone - and there is an army of retired medics waiting to help. We need to allow them to do so, and keep bureaucratic barriers to this to the bare minimum.

“Requiring people to submit more than 20 pieces of documentation, some of which have low relevance to the task they will be doing, and some of which some retired medics and returners to the profession won’t even have, is a deterrent for them getting involved at a time when we need all hands on deck.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also made reference to some of these unnecessary or obtuse documentation requirements in recent days, describing a willingness and desire from Government to reduce some of this red tape.

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