In this update, we answer some of the frequently asked questions when it comes to the New to Partnership Payment Scheme that was launched by NHS England in conjunction with the British Medical Association in order to encourage individuals to take up partnership within GP practices in England.
1. Who does the scheme cover?
It entitles registered healthcare professionals (GPs, nurses, pharmacists etc.) to secure up £20k as a “golden hello” if they become a partner of a practice holding a GMS, PMS or APMS contract. It also enables them to claim up to £3k towards professional development costs/ fees and a further 20 per cent (on top of the £20k) as a contribution towards tax and NI.
2. Is the scheme open to practice managers?
At present, no but the intention is that the scheme will be widened to cover practice managers too.
3. What are the conditions attaching to the payment?
There are various conditions attaching to the payment. Core to those are:
- the new partner must remain in partnership for a minimum of five years;
- the new partner must be an equity partner and cannot also hold a salaried post in the practice;
- the new partner must not have been a partner previously in England;
- individuals can only participate in the scheme once;
- the new partner must provide a minimum level of service (two clinical sessions per week – 4hrs 10 min each); and
- the payment will not be made unless the partnership (including the new partner) has entered into and signed a partnership agreement.
4. Is the £20k payable regardless of the sessional commitment?
The £20k is payable for those working full-time (which for the purposes of the scheme is considered to be satisfied if the new partner works seven sessions per week) and the sum payable is pro-rated if they work part-time.
5. What if the new partner ceases to satisfy any of the conditions?
There is a requirement to repay the payment (or a proportion of the payment). So, for instance, if the new partner leaves the partnership before the expiry of the five year minimum period or reduces their sessional commitment* then a proportion of the payment is repayable depending on the length of the five year minimum period that is incomplete or the reduction in their sessional commitment (as the case may be).
Note: a reduction in sessions is not considered to have occurred in cases of statutory leave (maternity leave, adoption leave etc.) or long-term sickness.
6. Can the £20k be retained in the partnership or does it have to be paid to the new partner?
Retention is not permitted under the scheme. It has to be paid to the new partner within 28 days of the partnership receiving the payment from NHS England.
7. What agreement(s) need to be entered into?
As mentioned above, the partners (including the new partner) must enter into a Partnership Agreement. Other than this the “Partnership” as a whole (as opposed to the individual new partner) will be asked to enter into a section 96 Grant Agreement with NHS England. This is important to stress. NHS England can not make the payments directly to the individual partners but has to pay it to the “partnership”.
Given this fact, all the conditions around the payment and obligations around repayment rest with the “partnership” as a whole as opposed to the individual new partner. So, for instance, if the conditions cease to be satisfied and the payment is clawed back by NHS England then they will be clawing the sums back from the “partnership” as opposed to the individual new partner. It is therefore critical that the Partnership Agreement contains back to back provisions so the partnership can claw back any required repayment from the new partner (and those provisions must survive their retirement from the partnership).
8. What if the new partner moves practices?
If the new partner switches practices (but remains a partner in the new practice) then the Grant Agreement and scheme can flip over to the new practice/ partnership.
If you have questions about the scheme and/or need support in connection with preparing and/or updating your Partnership Agreement to take account of the new scheme, then please contact us.