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Practices to be offered £16k to persuade GPs to stay in general practice

GPs intending to take a temporary break from general practice will be eligible for a potential bursary up to £4,000 a year on top of their salary, under the revamped GP retainer scheme.

Under the enhanced retainer scheme, GPs who commit to four sessions a week will receive the £4,000 bursary, which represents a 12-fold increase in the current £310 incentive to help towards professional fees. 

The scheme will also top up the tariff paid to practices employing a retainer GP from £59.18 per session to £76.29 – meaning practices can now receive a maximum of £16,000 a year, up from £12,000 a year.

This is an interim measure ahead of a full overhaul of the scheme being developed by Health Education England, the GPC and NHS England for April 2017.

The BMA said the scheme – flagged up in last month’s GP Forward View and part of NHS England’s joint ten-point plan for GP workforce – is open to any GP who can provide ‘compelling evidence that they are intending to leave practise and would do so without this scheme’, which must be agreed with their responsible officer.

GP leaders told Pulse that while they were pleased to have secured the enhanced funding, work was needed to support GPs to take an active role without risking burnout.

The enhanced funding is available to practices and applicants for a maximum of three years, with a further two years at the old rate of £310 a year for the GP and £59.18 per session for the practice.

The chair of the GPC’s sessional GPs subcommittee, Dr Vicky Weeks, wrote that they expect the fully rolled out scheme to preserve the enhanced funding arrangements ‘as a minimum’ while developing other elements to recognise the importance of retaining trained GPs.

She said: ‘The enhanced funding recognises the important role that the practice plays in supporting the RGP, not just as an individual and in preventing isolation, but also as part of the practice team, maintaining and developing skills across the whole spectrum of general practice work.

’As a minimum, we expect funding levels, including this year’s top-up investment, to be maintained and safeguarded via the 2017 Statement of Financial Entitlements.’ 

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the education, training and workforce subcommittee told Pulse he was ‘quite pleased’ with the outcome after a ’long and protracted negotiation’.

He said: ’This is only the financial aspect of it, but the reality is there’s still a significant amount of work to be done to make the national performers list processes more straightforward, and – stating the obvious – GPs will only return to general practice if the job is attractive at the end of the day.’’

The King’s Fund report shows the dire straits that general practice is in. The rest of the work for that needs to carry on, but this is a short-term fix for a short-term problem.’

How much retainer GPs stand to make

Annualised sessions  Number of sessions per week Bursary (£)

Fewer than 104













NHS England plans for increasing the GP workforce

Nhs england

Nhs england

Overhauling the retainer scheme was one of the improvements pledged as part of NHS England’s joint ten-point plan for GP workforce, as a one of a number of preventing experienced, trained GPs leaving the profession.

It is now central to the Government’s shifting commitment to increase GP numbers.

NHS England is aiming to increase the workforce by 4,000 more doctors in training and 1,000 more trained doctors retained or returning to practise by 2020.



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