Retainer Scheme Testimonials


Sarah Robbins - Retainer Scheme Lead

"I became a GP retainer in 1998. At that time, I had two children aged 4 and 2, and had relocated from London to the South West.

Moving from a partnership in London, losing my network of friends and childcare support and settling my family to a very different way of life in the country, made continuing to work as a doctor seem too big a hill to climb.

Persuaded by friends that I would regret leaving medicine, and in particular by my older GP sister with her experience of the process of returning to practice after a long absence, I decided to join the Retainer Scheme.

Initially I worked just 2 sessions a week at a local practice, working around nursery/school times with a session a week as a clinical assistant in ED. Over a 3 year period, my GP sessions extended to 4 sessions, and when my youngest child went to school, the practice employed me as a half time partner.

With my family grown, I now work full-time; half in clinical practice and half in education. I am a GP trainer and Associate Dean for trainees in the Plymouth area, and Postgraduate Dean for GPs post CCT, working with retainers, returners and helping doctors in difficulty.

The scheme gave me the support to work when I needed it, financially, educationally and pastorially, and enabled me to continue doing the job I love.  Looking back, I am very glad I engaged with the scheme."


Jo Coldron

"At this particular point in my career I found the retainer scheme incredibly useful. It provided a platform to return to work whilst still being able to fully engage with caring for my young family.

The structure is robust enough to allow some protection from the pressures of the GP working environment, just at a point for me where that work / life balance is so fragile and important.  However it is also flexible enough to allow individual retainers to do a variety of working hours and roles, and as my home situation and career goals changed it allowed a personal progression whilst on the scheme.

During my 3 years as a retainer I have felt a valued member of my practice team and have been able to take on and expand roles such as LARC fitting, injection clinics and medical student teaching. Now that my children are just about to enter school I'm planning to become a 5/6 session partner. During the last year I've felt I've had the time and support to really prepare for this and feel completely in control of my career and the direction it is taking, which in part has been possible because of the stability of the retainer role."


Alice Cook

"As a newly qualified GP and a new parent the retainer scheme has given me the flexibility and support to pursue the career I love.

Working 4 sessions a week allows me to maintain my clinical skills whilst ensuring a good work life balance. I am granted additional administrative and educational time – allowing me to keep on top of the day to day workload and up to date with medical knowledge. I have also been able to develop new skills in family planning and coil insertion. Indemnity and GMC fees are covered by the retainer bursary.

In addition, I have been able to pursue my interest in teaching by taking advantage of the non-clinical sessions I can do on the scheme."


Jenny Martineau

"I retired from general practice last year. I wanted to have more time to undertake research and was finding the work of a GP partner too administration-heavy. After finishing I was able to take a three month break to travel and re-evaluate my plans. When I heard about the retainer scheme, it immediately appealed as it would enable me to 'keep my hand in',  stay in one place and not end up being the 'work horse' that salaried GPs often seem to end up being.

I can honestly say it has been transformative; it has given me the time to rekindle my interest in medicine, freed me up from onerous paperwork and above all I am enjoying the patients again."