General Practitioners Committee General practitioner Practice manager England GP practices

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GP Retention Scheme: step-by-step guide

GP surgery, Derry, Northern Ireland
18 October 2016

The GP Retention Scheme, launched by NHS England in 2017, is a package of support aimed at GPs who are considering leaving the profession if they have no other options to reduce their hours. It allows you to remain in clinical practice for a minimum of one to a maximum of four sessions per week and offers a salary supplement to help with costs such as indemnity, CPD or childcare. Your employing practice will also receive financial support whilst you’re on the scheme too.

As of June 2018, around 295 GPs across England have joined the scheme to give them the flexible working options they need to enable them to remain in practice. From having time to care for your family, wanting to reduce your hours as you approach retirement or to receive educational and development support after a period of absence, all GPs who are considering leaving General Practice and their employers should seriously consider joining this scheme.


"It looked too good to be true"

Kirsty Murdoch and Jacqueline Radley speak about the GP retention scheme.



This new scheme will have a positive impact by allowing GPs to remain in the workforce when their circumstances change.

Dr Vicky Weeks, BMA Sessional subcommittee

The new GP Retention Scheme was opened to new applicants on April 1st 2017. The new scheme builds on the enhancements made to the 'Retained Doctor Scheme' made in July 2016 and maintains the same level of funding.

The scheme is in recognition of the fact that the retained GP role is different to a 'regular' salaried GP post.

GPs may be on the scheme for up to five years with an annual review each year to ensure that they remain eligible.

Read more from NHS England


Read our step-by-step guide to help you understand the process

This guide is for:

  • GPs
  • Practice managers

This guide is not for:

  • GPs who require remediation


Step-by-step guide

  • Step 1: Who is eligible?

    Doctors applying for the scheme must be in good standing with the General Medical Council (GMC) without GMC conditions or undertakings – except those relating solely to health matters. The scheme is not intended for the purpose of supporting a doctor’s remediation and where the relevant NHS England Responsible Officer has concerns, the doctor would not usually be eligible for the scheme.

    The scheme is open to doctors who meet ALL of the following criteria:

    1. Where a doctor is seriously considering leaving or has left general practice (but is still on the National Medical Performers List) due to:

    • Personal reasons – such as caring responsibilities for family members (children or adults) or personal health reasons, or
    • Approaching retirement, or
    • Require greater flexibility in order to undertake other work either within or outside of general practice.

    2. And when a regular part-time role does not meet the doctor’s need for flexibility, for example the requirement for short clinics or annualised hours.

    3. And where there is a need for additional educational supervision. For example a newly qualified doctor needing to work 1-4 sessions a week due to caring responsibilities or those working only 1-2 sessions where pro-rata study leave allowance is inadequate to maintain continuing professional development and professional networks.

    Doctors must hold full registration and a licence to practice with the GMC and be on the National Medical Performers List.

    Doctors who are interested in applying to the scheme should contact their HEE Scheme Lead who will be able to advise on their eligibility for the scheme. Contact details are available on the NHS England website.

  • Step 2: What is defined as a 'session'?

    A retained GP session is defined as being 4 hours and 10 minutes.

    This includes administrative time, clinical meetings and dialogue with the clinical supervisor.

    The pattern of sessions worked will be agreed with the retained GP at least once each year and the practice will offer flexibility.

    These sessions will be within general practice or care settings where patients would usually expect a consultation with a GP.

  • Step 3: What is the incentive for the retained GP?

    The scheme can help you if you want to reduce your hours due to parental or other carer responsibilities, if you want to reduce your hours later in your career or if you wish to reduce your hours due to other work commitments (either inside or outside of general practice). It can help you to find a practice which has suitable working hours available.

    Retained GPs (RGPs) may work between one and four sessions per week and may be on the scheme for up to five years with an annual review each year to ensure that they remain eligible.

    The scheme supports both the retained GP and the practice employing them by offering financial support in recognition of the fact that this role is different to a 'regular' salaried GP post.

    The retained GP will be offered an annual allowance as indicated in the table below. All of this money (aside from tax and national insurance deductions) is to be passed on to the retained GP. The practice must not make deductions for any other reason.

    Annualised sessions*

    Number of sessions per week

    Allowance payment per annum £

    Fewer than 104












    *Annualised sessions include statutory holidays, annual leave and sessions used for CPD

  • Step 4: What is the incentive for the practice?

    Each practice employing a retained GP will be able to claim an allowance relating to the number of sessions for which the GP is engaged.

    For each session a retained GP works, the practice can claim a payment of £76.92. As an example, a practice will be eligible to claim £16,000 per year for a retained GP undertaking four sessions per week.

    This allowance will be paid for all sessions including sick leave, annual leave and educational leave where the retained GP is being paid by the practice.

  • Step 5: What are the contract implications?

    The retained GP will be classed as a salaried employee of the practice. The BMA has produced a Retained GP model contract, based on the salaried GP contract. We recommend that this model contract, which can be accessed here (link ) via the BMA website, is used for all retained GPs.

    As previously stated, retained GPs may be on the scheme for up to five years. Retained GPs will be required to undergo an Annual Review with the GP Dean or their nominated deputy; this will allow careful consideration as to their needs and requirements for future months and whether they should remain on the scheme.

    Retained GPs will still need to comply with revalidation and annual appraisal via their Responsible Officer.

    BMA members - use our contract checking and advice services by contacting our employment advisers on 0300 123 1233 or email

    Non-members - you can request general information by emailing [email protected]

  • Step 6: Will training be provided?

    All retained GPs, irrespective of length of service, must go through an appropriate induction programme.

    The practice will be required to offer the retained GP experience of a sufficiently wide range of general practice experience to ensure that they retain their skills.

    This will be mutually agreed and stated within the job plan, which will include hours of work, duties, time set aside for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and necessary attendance at meetings.

    See our guidance on job planning for GPs

  • Step 7: Who will manage the scheme?

    The GP Dean or designated deputy will manage the scheme, including monitoring educational aspects, maintaining a database of retained GPs and practices and developing a support network within their region. Records of this will be retained by the Health Education England (HEE) local team for audit purposes for up to six years and will be shared with NHS England quarterly.

    Applications are encouraged from any area in England.

    The retained GP allowance will be paid at the commencement of employment and then each year on the anniversary following successful review subject to a reapplication process.

    The GP Dean will inform NHS England local teams of any practices employing a retained GP, monitor numbers and feedback other information at regular intervals to the central HEE and NHS England teams. They will also follow up the outcomes to enable an assessment of impact to be carried out.

    Practices which have been identified by HEE will be able to receive the additional top up allowance from their NHS England local team even where the CCG has delegated co-commissioning. In this case, the SFE allowance will be paid by the CCG as normal and the top up by the NHS England local team. Practices will need to submit a claim form for the additional sum, including the GP allowance, from the NHS England local team.

  • Step 8: Further information and model contract