If you are wanting to go and work abroad for a few months or years, with the intention of returning to the UK, you may have a sinking feeling about what you are going to do about your appraisals or your revalidation. If you are out of the UK for under 2 years you should be able to resume clinical practice with relative ease (relative meaning a couple of months out of work completing paperwork). Whereas if you are out of the country and off the Performers List for more than 2 years, then you will have to join a Returner’s Scheme and work under supervision for up to 6 months on a relatively low salary. That’s if you’re lucky. Some GPs have been asked to re-sit their GP exams. Either way, the options are not great and it can be a distressing process.
Despite these grim options, don’t let it stop you! There are many good reasons why you should go and work abroad. You get to immerse yourself in a new culture, meet new people and gain new skills. The world is your oyster. You may wish to do charity work, you live and work close to family abroad for a while or you may simply fancy an adventure in a hot country with an outdoor lifestyle. Whatever the reason, my advice to you is, do it. You won’t regret it. The evidence supports that working abroad is beneficial for doctors.
Unfortunately, despite the ever increasing desire of doctors to go and work abroad, the current UK system does not support their return. GPs are penalised for choosing to work abroad and on returning they are subjected to the same requirements of assessment as someone who has not worked clinically during this period. This is both costly time-wise and financially to the individual. RCGP Chair Maureen Baker has pushed for a new National Returner’s Scheme to boost the GP workforce, which will ease this poor situation. Although, even that may still be a financial loss and unwelcome burden to someone who has been working full time as a GP abroad.