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GP retainer scheme extended as part of contract deal

GPs approaching retirement or looking to take a career break are eligible for financial support towards the cost of their CPD time, indemnity and professional expenses if they will keep working part-time.

The GMS contract 2017/18 sets out the final arrangements for NHS England’s revamped GP Retainer Scheme, which GPs can now stay on for five years, or up to seven years in exceptional circumstances, rather than three years.

Pulse revealed last year that funding available to practices for employing GP Retainers had been increased 30%, from £59.18 to £76.92 per session, with a maximum bursary of £4,000 for the GPs.

This funding is retained in the final scheme to enable practices to offer flexibility around the GP’s working patterns – with a particular emphasis on their educational needs in the future.

NHS Employers says retained GPs are ‘entitled to pro rata full-time equivalent of CPD’ and that the funding should be used to support educational course fees where necessary.

It also says £1m is being invested in the retention programme, though this was announced as part of the GP Career Plus pilots last November which will be looking at ways GPs aged over 55 can work more flexibly.

The bursary element, of up to £4,000 a year for GPs working 4 sessions a week (208 a year), has been retained and is given to the retained GP towards indemnity costs and professional expenses.

In a letter to practices, the GPC said that there were now ‘tighter criteria’ for joining the scheme.

It said: ‘The scheme is aimed at those GPs who are seriously considering leaving or have left general practice due to personal reasons, approaching retirement, or require greater flexibility.’

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the GPC training, education and workforce subcommittee, told Pulse: ‘It’s an enhanced retainer scheme of sorts. There’s two bits, there’s the increase in funding itself, which was an interim scheme. The other bit was launched as part of the GP Career Plus scheme.

‘These were eleven pilots announced in November to get locum GPs and GPs over 55 to be employed with an organisation to give them extra support.’