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Return to practice

Returning healthcare professionals have a key role to play in ensuring patients and service users have access to experienced and well-trained care staff equipped with the right skills.

The NHS has many healthcare professionals who returned to the profession they loved working in acute, community and primary care settings across England.  

Return to practice initiatives have seen over 4,000 people commence training to return to practice in nursing and other professions, but more can be done. 

The national return-to-practice scheme for nurses has been run by HEE since 2014 and provides experienced nurses with training and a route back into the NHS. To date more than 4,200 have commenced the practice programme and over 2,400 have completed and entered NHS employment. 

This programme is being expanded with a target of 1,000 each year. This is a blueprint for other professions with a new pilot scheme aims to bring 300 AHPs back into the NHS before 2019. 

Find out more about our current return to practice programmes below. 



Experienced nurses who want to come back to the profession have much to offer patients, employers and society. Coming back to the profession has never been easier with courses and training on hand to ease the transition and build skills. 

Find out more on our Return to practice: nursing pages. 


If you trained as an allied health professional (AHP) or a healthcare scientist (HCS), but have since left the profession, we run a programme that can provide help and information if you want to return to practice. 

Find out more on the Return to practice: allied health professionals and healthcare scientists pages. 

HEE is aware that some doctors can find it hard to return to practice after time out.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, in collaboration with the GMC, we were working to clarify the issues and barriers to returning with a view to developing a Return to Practice programme. This programme would be for doctors who are not currently in practice and do not have a National Training Number (NTN). Those holding an NTN are advised to contact their local SuppoRTT programme (link to SuppoRTT page needed).

The willingness of doctors to return to the NHS to assist with the COVID-19 response is hugely appreciated and has confirmed the importance of this issue. We are incorporating lessons learned during the outbreak as we consider developing the programme.

Further updates will be posted on this page. In the meantime, HEE’s E-Learning for Healthcare has a range of resources to support doctors wanting to return.

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