NHS England’s GP retention programme is currently supporting 254 GPs to stay on in the profession as of the end of December 2017, with GP leaders saying more support needs to be given to GPs to join the programme.
This means the five-year scheme to incentivise GPs to remain in clinical practice saw 36 new additions in the last three months of 2017, after Pulse reported 218 GPs were on the scheme at the end of September.
NHS England said the total number includes 54 GPs who joined following the relaunch of the scheme in 2016 – before which it was known as the retained doctor scheme.
However, a Pulse investigation earlier this year revealed that there is a ongoing trend of GPs drawing their pensions at an early age, with almost 3,000 GPs claiming their pension before the age of 60 since April 2013.
An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘The latest statistics published in February show that there are 254 retained GPs being supported overall up to 31 December 2017.
‘This includes 54 GPs now being supported through the new GP retention scheme, exceeding the indicative target of 50 GPs.
‘Practices and patients alike are benefitting from retaining the services of an experienced GP.’
Dr Helena McKeown, workforce policy lead for the BMA’s GP Committee, said the 254 figure was ‘a good starting point’.
But she added: ‘More publicity needs to be given about the scheme to support practices and GPs to join.’
She added that this was especially the case ‘now that practices can support more than one GP on the retainer scheme at a time’.
NHS England updated its guidance on the scheme in March to allow practices to employ more than one retained GP at a time ‘where there is capacity for support and long term career opportunities’.
GPs on the scheme can work up to 208 sessions per year, which includes protected time for continuing professional development, and receive a bursary of up to £4,000 per year, with practices participating in the scheme eligible for a payment of up to £76.92 per clinical session.