MAKING THE MOVE - relocating as a GP in the UK
The Office for National Statistics estimates that around 2.8 million people in England and Wales move between local authorities annually, and for a variety of reasons.
Some move for new jobs, or follow partners and spouses, many want to be closer to family and others are seeking a different lifestyle, better cost of living or preferred location. Whatever the reason, with practices in cities, towns and villages, on the coast and in the country, it is something the health service strives to make accessible for GPs.
One GP who has worked in very differing environments is Dr Jackie Howell, currently a part time GP based at Great Oakley Medical Centre in Corby, Northamptonshire. The practice is run by a team of 24 staff and offers a variety of day-to-day, as well as more specialist, treatments and clinics – a far cry from Dr Howell’s previous posting as the only GP on a distant island of the Shetlands!
She said: “I was literally the northernmost GP in Britain for a time. It was great, but totally different from what I am doing now. There you were basically on call all the time – you couldn’t get away from work. We were on an island and I was the only doctor, so anytime 24 hours a day I could have been needed.
“I’m really enjoying where I am now,” said Dr Howell, who has three children. “I am able to split my time between work and home more and it’s nice to be able to spend more time with the kids.”
As well as having that experience to draw on, Dr Howell has also spent time working abroad and her depth of knowledge and range of practice is now appreciated by the team at Great Oakley, where she was supported and encouraged by fellow GPs when she joined.
Moving within the UK can bring with it a wide range of experiences and offer valuable insights into the different geographical and cultural varieties. Yet the huge variety of population mix and breadth of demographic means GPs are able to find the type of practice and role that suits them in more than one location.
She said: “I qualified in 2005 from Birmingham University and spent my foundation years in Redditch and Worcester Hospitals before training in General Practice in Sandwell. I then moved to live in London and worked as a salaried GP at an inner city practice in Peckham for six years.”
After marrying and starting a family, Dr Henderson decided to leave London, but was keen to replicate the type of work and patients she was caring for.
Looking to return to the Midlands to be closer to family, she soon found that there were plenty of practices in other parts of the country that offered all the same challenges as the capital, but in the geographical area she wanted to be.
She said: “I relocated back to Solihull to be close to family after I had my children and am now based at Kingshurst. I prefer to work in inner city practices as I find the workload both challenging and rewarding. The population mix here is similar to my previous practice but their needs are generally more complex.”