Practices were offered £20,000 golden hellos for GPs taking on partnership roles for the first time under the 2020/21 GMS contract deal for England.
The offer is available to an apparently unlimited number of people - but nearly two months into the financial year not a single GP practice has claimed the payment, with guidance delayed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the association was still working to get NHS England to sign off guidance relating to the golden hello scheme for new first-time partners.
'I'm sure that will happen very soon,' he told GPonline. 'The commitment remains absolute that this will be applicable to all new partners from 1 April. None have been claimed yet but it will be backdated to then.'
Dr Vautrey said it had been difficult to press ahead with getting guidance published during the coronavirus pandemic because key officials were focused on the outbreak. 'Trying to move on to other areas has obviously been quite difficult, but I think we are now moving to the stage where we can start to re-look at some of the policy for this year and have the necessary people to prepare the guidance and move forward.'
The Leeds GP said the golden hello incentive scheme for new partners was a 'long-term scheme' that he expected to remain in place at least for the duration of the five-year GP contract that runs until 2023/24.
'This is not just for this year, this is a commitment to support recruitment and retention of partners for the long term.'
He added that many practices taking on new partners in April and May would likely have completed recruitment to these roles before the pandemic began.
However, Dr Vautrey added that the BMA would monitor the impact of the pandemic on take-up of the golden hello payments over the coming months: 'We need to see what happens beyond April and look carefully at it, there may be changes in the coming months because people have been focused on priorities other than recruitment. But this is a long-term scheme.'