Return to Work Plans for Doctors in the UK

Back to Work Plans in Medicine

Doctors who have had a period of time away from work may be advised to devise a back to work plan, to ensure that they are well-supported in the workplace. NHS Resolutions provide some useful guidance and support to doctors and clinicians generally on this subject: Guidance on Return to Work Plans.

A structured back to work plan needs to be worked out with precision, with someone involved who can offer supervision on return to work, someone who knows the area of practice that the doctor will be working in, so that they can provide guidance and mentorship that is up to date and credible.

There need to be good clinical governance arrangements in place. For junior doctors this may be fairly straightforward, if they go into a supportive NHS or private environment. However, where the practitioner is a senior doctor, or works in isolation (such as a single-handed GP) there may be difficulties in organising such a plan.

NHS Resolution has some guidance and template return to work plans on its webpages.

A doctor who devises a back to work plan will need to set clear objectives, milestones, and identify how set-goals will be met and evidenced to be signed off as completed. A doctor will need to evidence personal learning and achievements.

This might be connected with general competence, personal boundaries, probity, updating or forward planning of career. You need to personally evaluate progress and achievement and have a mentor/supervisor who can confirm that you have met your goals. They may also suggest further learning and identify weaknesses that can be added to the list.

Having  support from a registered medical practitioner in the same speciality is really a minimum requirement if the back to work plan is to have any credence.

Clinical Attachments

It is often a useful exercise for a doctor who has been out of clinical practice for a while to undertake a clinical attachment. The role is limited and the doctor must have supervision. The GMC has set out guidance for doctors who seek such positions: GMC Guidance on Clinical Attachments


GPs may find the following webpage to be helpful: NHS Return to Work Plans for GPs

For further information or assistance in devising a Back to Work Plan or Return to Work Plan, contact Doctors Defence Service on 0800 10 88 739


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Doctors Defence Service (DDS) assists medical doctors who are registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) in the United Kingdom (UK) and also those doctors from abroad who wish to register and practise as doctors in the UK. Doctors Defence Service also assists doctors in relation to all other legal issues arising from daily practice and operating businesses in the clinical arena. DDS represents doctors in FTP and IOP GMC proceedings, at inquests, in general civil cases, in commercial and contract law, in revalidation matters, and employment law. Doctors Defence Service can be contacted on 0800 10 88 739. We have main offices in London, Manchester, and Telford. We cover most other UK regions too.