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GP-turned-priest returns to general practice

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A Lancashire community priest who also works as a GP has spoken about her decision to return to medicine, as a new national campaign aims to encourage family doctors back into general practice.

The Reverend Dr Anne Kazich, 49, who splits her time between working as a Church of England minister and a GP in Skelmersdale, left medicine in 2012 to follow her religious calling and train as a priest.

Last year, she returned to general practice through the Induction and Refresher (I&R) scheme, which supports GPS to return to the profession after taking a break, moving back from overseas or coming out of retirement. A new national campaign has launched this week to promote the scheme and encourage more doctors to return.

Rev Dr Kazich grew up in Hamburg, Germany, but moved to England after finishing her medical degree. After working as a GP in Liverpool, she decided to train as a priest and left general practice, but says: “I always felt my ‘ministry’ was not just within the church but with people, so in 2017 I decided to return to medicine.”

She joined the I&R scheme and after a three-month placement with Beacon Primary Care she joined the practice permanently. She now works there three days a week as a GP and the other two days as a priest at St Pauls, Skelmersdale.

Rev Dr Kazich adds: “Coming back to general practice felt like coming home. As I have a passion for healing and holistic approach, I’m glad because two vocations have come together in a way I would have never dreamed of.

“Patients generally react positively to me wearing my collar in the practice; it opens up different conversations. Spirituality is so important to the holistic health of a person. It’s also exciting to be able to do more social prescribing. Due to my links within the community as a priest, I can signpost patients to more organisations.”

A new national campaign launched this week to raise the profile of the I&R scheme. The scheme aims to recruit 500 GPs nationally by 2020 and has already brought 279 doctors back into general practice.

Jointly run by NHS England and Health Education England, the campaign involves the publication of a brochure for GPs considering a return which highlights changes planned for general practice as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. This includes billions of extra funding and plans to recruit 22,000 health professionals to support GPs that will improve services for patients while also easing the GP workload. The campaign also involves social media, print advertising and digital adverts.

Jackie Forshaw NHS England (Lancashire & South Cumbria) Head of Primary Care, said: “This is a great example of how the returner scheme can provide tailored support to qualified GPs to join or return to NHS general practice that fits around their own needs and commitments.

“We were delighted to welcome the Rev Dr Anne Kazich back to general practice and hope that her story will encourage other GPs who have left the profession to consider returning, knowing they will be given the practical and financial support they need to do so.”

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