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The New to Partnership Payments scheme goes live
Sana Sadiq, senior solicitor at BMA Law, looks at what the New to Partnership Payment scheme means for you.
The New to Partnership Payment Scheme was announced in the Update to the GP Contract agreement 2020/21 – 2023/24. It was primarily designed to attract healthcare professionals in general practice into partnership opportunities by creating a learning fund to develop skills, coupled with a financial payment.
NHS England guidance states that ‘the overarching aim is to grow the number of partners stabilising the partnership model and helping to increase clinicians’ participation levels so that primary care and the patients it serves have access to the workforce they need’.
What the scheme means for you
The scheme will see participants receive up to £20,000 to support their establishment as a new partner (with those working less than full-time receiving the payment calculated on a pro-rata basis) and a training fund of up to £3,000 to support early partnership skills development.
Whilst the scheme was initially set to start on 1 April 2020, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic took priority, so the scheme went live at the later date of 1 July 2020.
It is possible to apply for the scheme on a retrospective basis for those who meet the eligibility criteria and became partners on or after 1 April 2020.
It is anticipated that the scheme will run for a minimum of two years from 1 April 2020.
To fit the eligibility criteria, applicants must be registered healthcare professionals working in general practice and delivering care to patients through GMS, PMS and APMS contracts.
The scheme is available to:
mental health practitioners.
Other eligibility criteria include, that applicants:
cannot have been a partner previously in England
must be a partner with an equity share and cannot be employed on a salaried basis within the same practice, meaning salaried partners are not eligible for the scheme
must enter the partnership agreement for the relevant practice on or after 1 April 2020 and before the scheme closes and can apply up to six months after signing the partnership agreement
must commit to holding a partnership role for five years or must repay NHS England a proportion of the payment calculated based on a weighted scale
must agree to deliver a minimum of two clinical sessions per week (4 hr 10 mins each) in their general practice setting for the five-year duration
must agree to join an annual eligibility check and reconciliation process
can participate in the scheme once.
In addition, the payment will be paid in alignment with the length of the contract, which must have a minimum of two years remaining.
The payment will be made to the primary healthcare provider that holds the contract with NHS England, ie the partnership, in which the participant of the scheme becomes a new partner. The partnership is obliged to pass the payment in full to the new partner.
Where there is an increase or decrease in hours worked during the five-year term of the arrangements, there may be a full or partial clawback of funding or an additional payment (subject to a cap) which will be identified through the annual reconciliation process. If the new partner leaves during the five-year period, they must repay a proportion of the payment calculated based on a weighted scale.
The partnership agreement will need to be updated to provide an obligation on the partnership to comply with the scheme and pass the payment on to the new partner and address the new partners repayment liabilities, including an indemnity to protect the interests of the partnership.
It is important to review and update the partnership agreement as above before the new partner joins. If you have not done so already, you may also consider it appropriate to update your partnership agreement to reflect other recent changes, such as the introduction of primary care networks and changes to the Clinical Negligence Scheme as operated by NHS Resolution.
Be aware that if a new partner joins without entering a partnership agreement or a deed of adherence, the partnership may be operating as a partnership at will (meaning amongst other things, the partnership can be dissolved at any time, by any partner, merely serving notice), so it really is important that the new partner signs up to the partnership agreement.
Further, it is important that all prospective applicants take independent financial advice before applying to the New to Partnership Payment scheme.