GP Partnerships – 5 Key Areas of Consideration

The Government has confirmed formal terms of reference for the GP partnership review. The review aims to “reinvigorate” the partnership model after years of underfunding and over-regulation have piled pressure on GPs. The model in its current form has led to many practitioners leaving partnerships roles and, in some cases, abandoning the profession altogether.

The review calls for “focused, affordable, and practical” recommendations so that GPs are no longer the focus of criticism for failings in the wider NHS and stress within the profession is minimised. This recent announcement has caused concern among medical professionals, but does it spell the end of the partnership model? Here are five key areas of consideration.

1. The partnership model promotes GP independence

General practice is the only part of the NHS that is mostly clinically led, and GP partners manage their own practices.Therefore, one of the greatest strengths of the model is the freedom for GPs to innovate. Most GP surgeries are run by partners working with small teams of clinical and administrative staff, over whom they have full autonomy.

2. Many GP partners are leaving the profession

There is an argument to suggest that freedom to innovate has been eroded by political decisions over the past decade. Now, GP workload is said to be spiralling out of control and funding cut from all areas. Evidence shows that the number of GPs (WTE) in the UK has dropped 10% in the last decade, whereas the number of full-time GP partners has fallen by 20%. These statistics suggest that partners are leaving the profession at twice the rate of regular GPs, indicating that the current partnership model may need to change.

3. GP partnerships can benefit patients

Most general practices are owned and run by local GPs, making them similar to local businesses. Therefore, GPs are often seen as the face of the NHS by their patients. The current model also gives GPs a stake in their practice, ensuring a unique relationship with their patients and promoting stability and continuity of care. GP practices are also able to change and adapt to reflect patient needs in a much more fluid manner, whereas bureaucracy and administration often curtail change in the NHS as a whole.

4. GPs become employers under the partnership model.

Despite being independent contractors, partners can employ salaried and locum doctors to work in their practices. Within the current model, GPs become employers who can relate to the employee on a much more minute level, nurturing a more positive employment relationship compared to the rest of the NHS.

5. GP partnerships lack wider support

On the other hand, the model also means that GPs are solely responsible for their practice, and therefore have to handle sometimes crippling workloads without the support of the wider NHS. GP partners will also bear the brunt of criticism when something goes wrong.

Understanding the GP partnerships review

The Government’s partnership review will look at reducing the personal risk of employing staff, vicarious liability, and personal name and shaming of GPs. It will also ask questions about the barriers to GMS and PMS contracts that are held by limited liability partnerships (LLPs).

If you’re finding that GP pressures are becoming too much for you in your current situation, why not consider working out of hours as an alternative? Out of hours working offers an escape from daytime surgery and an opportunity to condense your workload, alongside many other work/life benefits. Visit our jobs page to view our part-time and full-time vacancies, or contact us on 03000 243 333 today.