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Clair, what a beautifully written article. Thank you.

Last year I initiated the project “Rediscover the Joy of General Practice” https://www.srmc.scot.nhs.uk/joy-project/ It is specifically designed for GPs like you coming up for retirement but who feel they have more to give, but not under the pressures you describe. It began as a collaboration between NHS Orkney, Shetland, Western Isles and Highland and this year has expanded to include other Scottish Health Boards. It is based on work undertaken in Orkney over the last 10 years.

We offer contracts of between 6-18+ weeks/year to undertake practice attachments for periods of 1-4 weeks at a time. Travel from a Scottish city and accommodation is paid for, meaning that GPs do not need to relocate. Our philosophy is based on supporting the practices and staff in all aspects of GP work and quality improvement. Have a look at the website to understand the scheme more fully.

In 2019 we recruited 33 GPs to our Rural GP Support Team, many were retiring GPs who have felt reinvigorated by working with us. This year we have expanded the scheme to involve the whole of Scotland and not just rural practices. Currently we have shortlisted a further 35 GPs. Although we have officially closed, we will still accept late applications and will reopen to applications again once we have established this second team.

What is interesting is that as our team expands and develops we suddenly find that we have the opportunity to consider how we can tackle what previously seemed intractable problems. All members of the team are encouraged to contribute their ideas of how we could tackle thorny issues and due to the phenomenal depth of experience and expertise among our GPs we find ourselves in an unusually empowered position.

The project is led by the Primary Care Associate Medical Directors and Managers from the participating Health Boards and has the full backing of the Scottish Government. We are at an early stage and certainly do not have all the answers, but we are determined to try and make a difference. Working together with vision, determination and lateral thinking I believe we can make real changes – however, I am a self-confessed irresponsible optimist!

Anyone interested, do have a look at the website and please feel free to join us.

Claire, I would very much like to have a chat with you and to explore some of your ideas. My email is charles.siderfin@nhs.net