Out-of-work GPs given bursary lifeline

NHS England has confirmed a bursary worth up to £4,000 a year for doctors intending to take a temporary break from work.

Doctors will only be eligible if they can commit to four sessions (of the new GP retainer scheme) a week – so that they can keep in touch with general practice and retain their skills.

The reformed scheme will see a 12-fold increase of the current £310 incentive to support professional fees.

The tariff now paid to practices employing a retainer GP will rise from £59.18 per session to £76.29. This means a new maximum of £16,000 can be paid to practices each year.

“This new enhanced retainer scheme, negotiated by the British Medical Association (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”, said Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, BMA GP workforce lead.

NHS England had delayed its announcement of the scheme, despite conflicting reports that the GP Forward View had promised to make the current scheme financially viable from 1 may.

The scheme has now rolled out, with the funding made available from 1 July 2016.

The Retainer Scheme was set up 40 years ago to enable GPs to stay in employment and retain their skills during a time in their careers when they can only work part time.

“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”, said Dr Zoe Norris, BMA GP Sessional committee chair.

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