At last! And for what has seemed an eternity of lobbying, discussion and negotiation, we have secured the recognition of the Retainer Scheme as an important and vital part of General Practice Workforce solutions.
The Interim Scheme is a bridging arrangement available for application from 1 April until 1 December 2016. 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 practise, 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 practise 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 practise, but have not been out of practise 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. This top-up funding is available until March 2017. Over the coming year, we will be working with NHS England, HEE the RCGP and other stakeholders to further develop the Retainer Scheme for the benefit of GPs and to build on this recognition of its importance. As a minimum, we expect funding levels, including this year’s top-up investment, to be maintained and safeguarded via the 2017 SFE.
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 more about the workforce 10 point plan