Skip to main content

Return to work scheme scrapped after just five doctors find jobs

Published on: 25 May 2022

The Career Refresh for Medicine scheme was launched in 2020 to aid NHS England’s push to increase the number of doctors available to deal with covid pressures.

HEE said that 121 doctors had been recruited in two cohorts, launched in December 2020 and December 2021. Five of these have found jobs and 43 are still engaging with the programme and will be supported until March 2023 or until they start in post or leave the scheme, if earlier. But no more applications will be accepted.

The scheme offered access to web-based educations and information resources, career support and coaching. Once a job had been acquired there was a small study budget and three days supernumerary funding.

The scheme also included a short period where the returning doctors would work in a trust. But employers complained the programme did not do enough to prepare the medics to return to the workplace. 

HEE deputy medical director for medical reform Sheona MacLeod told HSJ: “Career Refresh for Medicine was a pilot project started by HEE to look at supporting doctors in returning to work in the NHS after a prolonged absence from clinical medicine. The idea came from feedback in a GMC survey from doctors currently out of clinical practice, highlighting perceived difficulties in returning that made them unlikely to do this.

“Feedback suggested the offer was well received by a good number of prospective returners. [However] employers felt significantly more paid employment time was required, which would require significantly increased budget from other partners or individual employers to make an impact.”

HSJ understands that some doctors on the CaReforMe scheme did not engage with the programme and there were misunderstandings about whether jobs would be found for them or whether they would have to seek them out for themselves.

HEE does run other courses for doctors seeking to return to practice, for example to help increase GP numbers. The medical support worker programme, run by NHSE, is for doctors who are not currently on the GMC register and offers paid work at band six for six months.