NHS England has confirmed the long delayed funding boost pledged for its GP retainer scheme and reported by Pulse in May.
The revamped retainer scheme, first revealed by Pulse, means doctors intending to take a temporary break from general practice will be eligible a bursary up to £4,000 a year if they commit to four sessions a week.
This represents a twelve-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.
NHS England delayed announcement of the scheme despite the GP Forward View pledging it would increase the financial incentives under the current scheme from 1 May.
The Forward View also commits to introducing a more ’fit for purpose’ retainer scheme from April 2017.
NHS England’s announcement – made 28 July – of the retainer scheme states the increased funding is available from 1 July 2016.
Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, BMA GP workforce lead said: ‘This new enhanced retainer scheme, negotiated by the BMA, will provide significant more resources to both GP practices and individual GPs to allow highly skilled professionals to remain in the workforce particularly in part time roles.’
Dr Zoe Norris, BMA GP Sessional committee chair, said: ‘In the past, if you were a doctor who took time to have a family, or care for a relative and wanted to then come back to work, there was no support. So these doctors left and this patient care suffered. The NHS lost highly skilled GPs in a time of dire need.’