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CCGs failing to invest in GP retention scheme, BMA warns

Some CCGs are failing to invest in the GP retention scheme due to financial pressures, the BMA has warned.

Writing in his weekly LMC newsletter, BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said that because the scheme is listed in the Statement of Financial Entitlements (SFE), CCGs are obligated to ‘keep money back for this scheme and not spend it elsewhere’.

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.

Meanwhile, participating practices are eligible for a payment of up to £76.92 per clinical session – up to £16,000 per year. 

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’.

But Dr Vautrey said: ‘We understand that some CCGs may not be investing in the GP retention scheme due to funding pressures…

‘Because it’s in the SFE, CCGs have to consider all applications and pay at the rates specified.

He added that while CCGs ‘can only approve a limited number of new scheme members per year because resources are finite’, the resources do ‘already exist in CCGs’ primary care funding allocations’.

He advised GPs to contact the BMA’s workforce and innovation team if their CCG is refusing to offer GP retention placements.

Dr Vautrey said: ‘CCGs need to consider the impact of not having enough GPs in the local area, reduced patient access to GP services and how much more this is likely to cost in unnecessary A&E attendances, avoidable hospital admissions and failure to provide appropriate preventative treatment/care before patients reach much more costly crisis stages of illness.’

This comes after Pulse reported that as of the end of December 2017, CCGs are supporting 254 GPs to stay on in the profession, with GPs saying this ‘a good starting point’ but more need to be supported to join the scheme.