Retired doctor returning to the NHS to cut waiting lists

Retired doctors set to return next month, NHS says

A wave of retired doctors are set to return to the health service and help cut waiting lists next month, NHS England has announced.

The NHS Emeritus pilot scheme will see a cloud-based platform allow clinicians to express their interest in undertaking various jobs listed by providers – NHS organisations will then select the consultant who they think best matches the work.

With more than four-fifths of the waiting lists being people who need an outpatient appointment rather than a surgical procedure, the health service hopes the platform can help doctors carry out remote work.

Ultimately, the initiative is an alternative to hiring agency staff – something which cost NHS England more than £3bn between 2020 and 2022.

Andrew Stephenson quote

Before they can begin work, consultants need to complete a full registration process including pre-employment checks and face-to-face interviews with NHS Professionals.

NHS England says the programme will initially run for a year, but could be expanded to “other work areas” if successful – a move that could help thousands of patients in England, according to Stella Vig, national clinical director for elective care.

Vig hopes the NHS Emeritus initiative will “provide an opportunity for consultants to continue to work in the NHS in a way that fits with their life and schedule”.

Chief executive at NHS Employers, Danny Mortimer, commented: “Employers are focused on being as flexible as possible to ensure that the skills of retired clinicians are available to our teams and patients.

“Government reforms to NHS pensions have helped this effort, and this initiative from NHS England adds important national weight and profile to the objective.”

The scheme was first announced by NHS England’s chief executive, Amanda Pritchard, in June 2022.

The latest figures show that, as of November 2022, there were 6.39 million patients waiting for treatment after a record-breaking month for care. England’s overall waiting lists stood at 7.6 million.

Image credit: iStock

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