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For what has seemed like an eternity of lobbying, discussion and negotiation, we have secured the recognition of the Retainer Scheme as an important and essential part of General Practice Workforce solutions.
The Interim Scheme is a bridging arrangement available for application from 1st July 2016 until 31st March 2017. The enhanced revised funding arrangements for the Scheme are available to applicants and practices for a maximum total for three years, and the duration of the Scheme remains limited to a maximum for 5 years (reverting to current funding arrangements for the last two possible years on the scheme). It is now agreed that those who are currently on the present Scheme can transfer to the interim scheme, but again only to a maximum duration on the Scheme of five years.
The Scheme is open to a wider range of GPs who might feel that they need support to continue to practice, and importantly this is irrespective of length of service. It is open to any GP who can provide their GP Dean with compelling evidence that they are intending to leave practice and would do so without this scheme. What’s new is that the Scheme is now open to those GPs who are currently not in practice, but have not been out of practice for more than two years and have remained on the National Medical Performers List.
The Scheme remains at a maximum of four sessions per week, and the Retained GP (RGP) will be provided with an enhanced annual bursary of up to £4,000 depending on the number of sessions delivered per week. NHS England have decided to base this on annualised sessions:
Number of sessions per week
Fewer than 104
The current Statement of Financial Entitlements (SFE) funding level of £59.18 will be topped up, so that practices will receive £76.92 per session. 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.
The challenge for the future is to further develop the Retainer Scheme, building on the interim arrangements, and ensure that the Scheme remains a viable workforce resource. That is to say, it does what is says on the tin; retain GPs within the workforce sensitive to personal needs. To that end we are continuing to work with NHS England, HEE and RCGP to develop a new scheme commencing April 2017, recognising that funding and resources are key to the success of the Scheme.
The most valuable resource that the NHS has is its workforce. It is a matter of common and economic sense to support this experienced and invaluable workforce, not just to prevent them from leaving, but to provide them with opportunities to continue to further develop and sustain their careers and contribute to the provision of patient services, because at the end of the day, that’s what it is all about.
Read the step-by-step guide to the Retained Doctor Scheme
Vicky Weeks is a member of the executive team of the Sessional GP subcommittee
Common sense. The demands of GP are such that for all sorts or reasons they might not be sustainable at points in a GPS life. I would undoubtedly have left GP without the scheme which I completed last year in Scotland. My only question- extend beyond 5 years?
Common sense. I would undoubtedly have left GP had it not been for this scheme which I completed my 5 years on last year. Would be good to have an extended time period on it- 5 years is relatively short.
The changes to the GP Retainer Scheme, the enhanced bursary for GP Retainers and increased payment for their host Practices is welcome (although somewhat overdue) and goes some way towards supporting GP Retainers and keeping this experienced group of GPs in the profession.
Although the new bursary is much better than the previous (paltry) £310 available towards our professional fees, it still does not truly recompense. The recent exponential rise in Medical Indemnity fees is a concern to all GPs, but particularly to those of us who work part-time as we are proportionally harder hit.
I agree with previous poster that flexibility on the length of time GPs could spend as a GP Retainer would enhance the Scheme. Caring responsibilities and personal, or family, illness do not tend to follow strict time limits.
A practical point: How do current GP Retainers actually apply for the increased annual bursary?
And to whom do we make the claim?
I cannot find any clear advice on this either on the BMA or NHS England's website pages on the changes to the Retainer Scheme. My local school of primary care, at Health Education England could not help either. Could BMA include practical advice on this please?
To apply for the retainer scheme, you need to contact your local Health Education England (HEE) GP Dean who will be able to provide this information.
This is included in the FAQs on our website which you can access here: www.bma.org.uk/.../retained-doctor-scheme-faqs
The HEE website has further information on who to contact and how to apply: heeoe.hee.nhs.uk/retainer
The information in the post above applies to NEW GP Retainers, but the question asked was: How do EXISTING GP Retainers apply for the enhanced bursary for their professional fees?
Also; How do Practices receive the increased funding for their EXISTING GP Retainers?
Do existing GP Retainers and Practices need to apply for the new Retainer Scheme? Or is there a system set up by NHS England so that GPs and Practices can automatically access the increased funding NHS England has promised?
There is currently NO practical guidance regarding this on the BMA website, nor on the NHS England website pages regarding the GP Retainer Scheme.
The BMA FAQs referred to makes reference to
'The 2016 scheme provides additional financial support to the existing scheme. Doctors currently designated as a retained GP will remain on the scheme within the normal time limit of five years but will qualify for the additional funding.'
But there is no guidance on next steps for existing GP Retainers / Practices hosting GP Retainers re how to apply for their funding.
Could clear advice on this be included in the FAQs please?
Unfortunately, when I have enquired, as advised, about the changes to the RS to my local division of HEE, the response they gave in person was that they were not aware of the increase in the funding having started or how to make a claim for this. All their advice available online applies to the previous Scheme, not to the new updated Scheme. No-one was able to advise me on the next steps.. In fact I was advised to contact NHS England. Seems HEE may not have caught up yet. Completely exasperating.
Overall, it is great to have all these positive words within the new directive from NHS England re long awaited enhancements to the Retainer Scheme, but unless this is translated into real time positive changes for GP Retainers and their host Practices, backed up by a process that is straightforward to navigate, then it's really all just a lot of hot air.
Not very encouraging.
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