A refund GP retainer scheme will enable doctors to take a temporary break from general practice while receiving a bursary of up to £4,000 in addition to their annual salary.
The enhanced scheme will enable doctors who commit to four sessions per week to receive the full £4,000 bursary.
This replaces the previous £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.
The sum total amount that practices can potentially receive increases to £16,000 annually, with the same figure having been at £12,000 last year.
And while these new opportunities will be welcomed by many GPs, this is only the beginning of the revolution of this process.
The new bursary measures are merely an interim arrangement, with the overall scheme due to be completely overhauled by Health Education England, the GPC and NHS England for April 2017.
This new practice is part of the NHS Forward View, and will be open to any doctor who can provide “compelling evidence that they are intending to leave practise and would do so without this scheme”.
All receipts of the bursary must be agreed with the responsible officer of the doctor in question.
Enhanced funding will be made available to practises and applicants for a maximum of three years.
Commenting on the issue, the GPC’s sessional GPs subcommittee, Dr Vicky Weeks, asserted her belief that the scheme can play a very positive role in enhancing the conditions of doctors in the National Health Service.
“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. As a minimum, we expect funding levels, including this year’s top-up investment, to be maintained and safeguarded via the 2017 Statement of Financial Entitlements.”
Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the education, training and workforce subcommittee, emphasised that negotiations to finalise the procedure had been rather laborious, but that the ultimate result has certainly been worth the effort.
Yet Kasaraneni also believes that there is potential for further progress to be made in the future, and that general practice will only benefit from the provisions included in this new scheme.
“This is only the financial aspect of it, but the reality is there’s still a significant amount of work to be done to make the national performers list processes more straightforward, and – stating the obvious – GPs will only return to general practice if the job is attractive at the end of the day.”
Previous reports indicated that general practice is under massive pressure, with doctors being deluged with massive workload.