The Flexible Careers Scheme is a response to the Improving Working Lives Initiative, which aims to make the National Health Service a better place to work. The IWL standard sets out the expectations placed on NHS employers to support staff and promote their welfare and development, in order to create a healthy and productive balance between work and outside life. The Flexible Careers Scheme has been developed to give hospital doctors more opportunities to work flexibly in their careers, and so enable doctors, who would otherwise leave the service or have already left, to use their skills and experience gained in the NHS to benefit the NHS. This is a clear benefit both to doctors and the NHS where staffing and retention of staff is one of the key issues. The Scheme is available for all hospital doctors, who have settled status or indefinite leave to remain in the UK/EEA and have appropriate GMC registration, regardless of gender, ethnicity, and level of training or grade. The Scheme is designed to enable doctors to fulfil the revalidation requirements of their speciality, keep up their practise, receive advice and have access to appraisal. The flexible working element of the Scheme provides support for doctors to work up to half time. It can be used to facilitate job shares and allow Trusts to increase Consultant numbers as well as providing opportunities for irregular working patterns by annualising working hours.
Who is the Flexible Careers Scheme for?
Doctors in training grades
- Doctors who wish to take a managed break from training in the NHS, working 19 hours a week or less but still maintaining their clinical skills.
- Career grade doctors
- Career grade doctors with personal circumstances which mean they need to work flexibly
- Doctors who are semi-retired or approaching retirement who wish to continue making a service contribution to the NHS with reduced hours
- Doctors recently awarded their Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) who wish to work flexibly as a consultant.
- Doctors working outside the NHS who wish to work flexibly within it, including doctors currently working as locums who are unable to work full-time and doctors who wish to come out of retirement to work flexibly for a period
‘Returners’ who need a supervised, funded period of practice before returning to regular employment in the NHS
Specific Criteria for Doctors Returning to the NHS
The purpose of the Scheme is to support the return to clinical practice of medically qualified individuals who fulfil the criteria indicated below.
- The Postgraduate Dean (or nominated Associate Dean) or Director of Postgraduate General Practice approves applications from doctors who have been assessed as suitable to join the Flexible Careers Returner Scheme and recommends them for entry to the Scheme. The following criteria should be used to assess whether an applicant is suitable for the Scheme. The Postgraduate Dean needs to be satisfied that a 6-month placement (or equivalent part-time) is sufficient for the applicant to reach a standard where they can compete in open competition for an NHS post
- It must be at least two years since the applicant last worked in a substantive NHS post
- The applicant must have at least 12 months whole time equivalent previous work in a substantive NHS post (can include pre-registration posts) The applicant will be required to supply satisfactory references from their last period of employment in the NHS
- The applicant must have been out of clinical practice for no more than five years. If the applicant has been out of clinical practice for more than five years, then he/she must first undertake a clinical attachment prior to being considered for the Scheme
- The applicant must have full registration with the General Medical Council and be in good standing with the GMC. The applicant must be able to demonstrate full compliance with Occupational Health and Criminal Records Bureau clearance requirements
- The applicant must have settled status in the UK/EEA or indefinite leave to remain
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