NHS Education for Scotland Logo

Scotland Deanery

Home of Medical and Dental Excellence

Your Development

Scotland GP Returner Programme

If you’re a General Practitioner looking to return to General Practice in Scotland, the Scotland Deanery has developed a fast and funded pathway back to frontline GP work.

Who is the Scotland GP Returner Programme for?

General Practitioners (GP) who previously worked in NHS General Practice and have taken a career break of at least two years or spent time working abroad, who are on (or eligible to be on) the General Medical Council’s (GMC) GP Register and are eligible to be on a NHS Performers’ List, can apply to the programme to safely return to General Practice. See full eligibility details 

Where can I get more information?

Read this web-page for a summary of the Programme and eligibility requirements. Here also are quick-links to useful resources we strongly recommend you review:

Start with an Expression of Interest: Once you’ve read the information provided on this page, reviewed our resources and checked your eligibility is valid, then please contact NHS Education for Scotland to make the first step by completing and submitting the form below:

GP Returner Programme – Enquiry Form

By submitting this form, you consent to NHS Education for Scotland contacting you in connection with the Scotland GP Returners Programme.

Am I eligible for the Scotland GP Returner Programme?

  • You must have a Certification of Completion of GP Training by a competent authority (or equivalent).
  • You must have the right to work in the UK.
  • You must be fully and currently registered with the GMC with a license to practise and on the GP Register, without GMC conditions or undertakings (except those relating solely to health matters).
  • You must not have been working in clinical General Practice for the preceding two years but must previously have worked within a General Practice environment providing continuity of care and the full range of primary care services including, for example, the following - paediatrics, end of life and palliative care, care of the elderly, chronic disease management, complex multimorbid conditions and mental health.
  • You must establish your eligibility to be included on the Scottish Performers’ List through contact with the Health Board Performers List Administrator in the area you wish to work. If this is conditional on satisfactory completion of the Returner Programme, then the Health Board Medical Director/ Performers’ List administrator must convey this opinion to the local NES Advisor.
  • You must have a commitment to be domiciled in and work in NHS General Practice in Scotland.
  • You must be eligible for Medical Defence organisation membership on completion of the programme.

If you have sat and been unsuccessful in the assessments for the Induction and Refresher Scheme in England (irrespective of number of sittings) then you would not be eligible for the Scotland GP Returner Programme.

Eligibility for the programme does not guarantee acceptance onto the programme which is dependent on availability of willing practices for placements.

About applying?

Firstly, you should initiate contact with NHS Education for Scotland by submitting the form on this page. Our specialist GP Advisor will talk with you in the first instance to assess if you can be referred immediately onwards to apply to join your preferred Health Board Performers’ List. (depending on your experience and circumstances, you might be able to immediately join their performers list – at the discretion of the Health Board Medical Director).


Otherwise, the NES GP Advisor will undertake a structured review of your clinical work, training and CPD. This structured interview forms an educational assessment. If it is concluded that you are eligible and would benefit from the GP Returner Programme then a suitable placement for up to six months, in an approved GP practice will be identified. Formative assessments, during this placement, will include a video analysis of consultation skills, a test of knowledge (RCGP PEP) and work place based assessments.


At the end of the programme, the supervisor will make a recommendation to the Medical Director of the Health Board in relation to suitability for independent practice.

What happens next?

There is no entry test however the NES Advisor will want to meet you in order to ascertain that the GP Returner Programme is appropriate and, through an educational needs assessment, agree the recommended duration of the programme.

  • Normally those who have been out of practice for more than five years will be offered a six month full-time attachment whilst those out of practice for between two and five years will be offered a three month full-time attachment.
  • In order to undertake the programme, you will need to be included on the Performers List “in training for a fixed period” for the duration of your programme.
  • Your start date on the programme will be dependent upon the availability of funding and an appropriate GP Practice placement. 

Breaking News: 1 year free membership of RCGP for GPs doing the Returner Programme

GPs who qualified in the UK via the MRCGP exam route or have ever been a member of the RCGP via another route, who are on the Scotland GP Returner Programme, will be entitled to one year Full Membership for free. This includes all benefits of full membership except the hard copy of BJGP, which will be available electronically. All you need is proof of registration on the Scotland GP Returner Programme.

Application form for RCGP membership

RCGP video

Next Steps

Firstly you need to apply to join the relevant Health Board Performers’ List but first ensure that you have read through both our The Scotland GP Returner Programme 2018 (pdf) and the FAQ page.


Top