GP Retainer


The Retained Doctor Scheme was set up some time ago to support GPs who wanted to remain in General Practice, but were unable to commit to more than 4 sessions per week in a practice. The scheme provides financial incentives for both the individual and the practice, with opportunities for education and professional development. GPs may remain on the scheme for up to five years with an annual review to check eligibility.

As a result of General Practice Forward View in July 2016, NHS England increased the funding available for the scheme from the date of recruitment up to 30th June 2019, when a review of the scheme will take place.

Below you can find information on How to Start, Employment Guidelines, Education, Contract, Payments, Other Work, Reapplying, relevant Publications, Forms and Documents as well as CPD Entitlement, Group Meetings and the Retainer Scheme Flow Chart. Full details of the scheme on the NHS England website.

Eligibility for the scheme (GP)

  • Must be qualified as a GP, have full registration with the General Medical Council , be on the National Medical Performers’ List and worked in the UK within the last 2 years
  • Must intend to work for a maximum of 208 sessions per year (up to 4 sessions per week) in the practice (including annual leave, statutory holidays and personal development time).
  • Must be able to provide ‘compelling evidence that they are intending to leave GP if they are unable to join the scheme’ ie good reasons for applying for the scheme
  • This scheme is not suitable for GPs requiring remediation or where the local responsible officer has concerns

Eligibility for the scheme (GP Practice)

  • The employing primary care organisation must offer a sufficiently wide range of general practice services to enable the RGP to maintain skills across the full spectrum of the work of a general practitioner.
  • The RGP should be embedded in one GP practice to enable peer support at work and continuity with patients.
  • Where the RGP requires educational support the practice must be able to demonstrate that it can meet those educational needs and understands the ethos of educational mentoring.
  • If the practice currently employs or has recently (within the last 2 years) employed an RGP the outcomes should be discussed with the GP Dean before another RGP is agreed.
  • Practices may employ more than one RGP where there is capacity

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Employment guidelines

The RGP can work 1-4 sessions per week in a practice, although a minimum of 2 sessions is generally expected. A session is equivalent to four hours and ten minutes and this includes administrative time.  The clinical workload is negotiated on an individual basis, between the retainer and the practice.  It may include home visits, duty doctor sessions, telephone triage and extended hours but this is not mandatory.


A Retainer is able to work a further 1-2 sessions per week in a non-General Practice setting, such as Out of Hours work, but this requires specific approval from the Deanery.

The RGP on this scheme can work a maximum of 208 sessions per year. The sessions worked will be agreed with the RGP at least once each year and the practice will offer flexibility. These sessions will be within general practice / care settings where patients would usually expect a consultation with a GP. The RGP will be offered an annual bursary payment, paid via their practice, as outlined below.

Annualised sessions* Number of sessions per week Bursary payment per annum £
Fewer than 104 1-2 1,000
104 2 2,000
156 3 3,000
208 4 4,000

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

The RGP is a salaried employee of the practice and should be employed as such. Contract checking and advice services can be accessed by BMA members by calling 0300 123 1233 or by emailing General advice for non-members can be obtained by emailing

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Practice requirements for RGP

  1. Offer adequate and appropriate induction, both on joining and after any significant break (e.g. maternity leave). This will include for example IT systems, information governance, safeguarding etc.
  2. Nominate a clinical colleague who will provide support and development time (fortnightly or monthly as discussed and agreed with the RGP).
  3. Notify the GP Dean in advance of any substantial changes within the practice that may impact upon the employment and educational arrangements of the retained doctor.
  4. Notify the GP‟s responsible officer and the GP Dean of any substantial changes within the practice which may impact on the employment.
  5. Arrange wherever possible that the main clinical meetings occur on a day when the RGP usually works.
  6. Work with the RGP to create a job plan suitable for the needs of the individual RGP to keep them in the profession.


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RGP requirements

  1. Must maintain registration with the General Medical Council.
  2. Maintain membership of a medical defence organisation to the level required by NHS England.
  3. Notify the GP Dean, in advance where possible, of any changes in working arrangements (e.g. additional work) and domestic circumstances that may affect participation in the scheme.
  4. Notify the GP Dean of any long spells off work, e.g. maternity leave or long-term sick leave.
  5. Submit to the GP Dean an annual renewal form and discuss this with the local HEE scheme lead at least one month in advance of the joining anniversary, to allow time for discussion regarding continuity of the scheme and any adjustments required.
  6. Make every effort to attend any events organised by the GP Dean expressly for RGPs.
  7. Make their responsible officer aware of the fact that they are a RGP.


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Financial support for practices

Each practice employing an RGP will be able to claim an allowance depending on the number of sessions the RGP works. Until 30 June 2016 the Statement of Financial Entitlement (SFEs) stated that for each session a retained GP works the employing practice can claim a payment of £59.18. Where a practice already employs an RGP or commences employment of an RGP between 1 July 2016 and 31 March 2017, this allowance will be increased to £76.92. This additional funding ends on 30 June 2019 and any funding available from this point forwards will be as stated in the SFEs. This allowance will be paid for all sessions including sick leave, annual leave and educational leave where the RGP is being paid by the practice. Evidence of this payment will be required.

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Re-applying for the Scheme

Each year RGP needs to re-apply for the scheme, submitting a re-approval form to the Associate GP Dean at the Dorset GP Centre.  This can be downloaded below. If you are in your final year of the Retainer Scheme, make an appointment with the Associate GP Dean or your local GP Tutor to discuss your career plans at the end of the scheme.

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Useful Forms and Documents

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Educational & Professional Development

In Dorset we have developed an educational and peer support programme for First5 and sessional GPs. RGPs are very welcome to attend these meetings, where they can make contacts with other sessional GPs. Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of every month at the Harbour Hospital, St Mary’s Road, Poole, BH152BH.  Free car parking available. Dinner from 6.45pm and teaching from 7.30-9pm. These are popular events and well attended and you will be made very welcome! If you would like to attend please let Aurelia Butcher know the week before so that we can cater for you.

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How to apply to become a GP Retainer

  1. Approach a practice and see if they are interested in having a GP Retainer.

Please note: You will need someone designated as your Educational Supervisor at the practice. This can be a GP Trainer, F2 Supervisor or someone who has completed an Educator Supervisors’ course.

  1. Complete the attached application form and return this to the Dorset GP Centre

Your Educational Supervisor will need to complete a section of this form. It would be ideal to agree a start date at the practice prior to application.

  1. After your application has been approved by the Deanery, approval is sought from the CCG.  The Dorset GP Centre will do this for you.
  1. Please check with the Dorset GP Centre that your application to become a RGP has both Deanery and CCG approval.
  1. Negotiate your contract with the practice.  Aim to use the BMA model contract for Retained Doctors: Model GP retainer scheme contract.


GMS practices are obliged to use the BMA contract, but PMS practices are not.  The employer, however, is obliged to consider the family commitments of the Retainer when negotiating working arrangements.  When discussing your contractual duties, remember to ensure your workload reflects the fact that you are not a partner.  Keep clear boundaries and make the job work for you.  You will need to negotiate your salary, which should be in line with Salaried GPs in the area.

Relevant BMJ Careers Publications

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