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End in sight for partnerships

The days of GP partnerships are numbered, a leading healthcare consultant is predicting.

Kingsley Manning, founder of Newchurch, which advises the NHS and private providers, told the recent NHS Alliance annual conference in Bournemouth that the current business model for practices was 'particularly vulnerable' and ripe for 'rapid change'.

The keen interest of private providers, a requirement for more staff, increased technological and regulatory burdens and a potentially more litigious society would all make it harder for partnerships to operate in the future, Mr Manning said.

'All these factors suggest the days of the partnership are numbered,' he said. 'There will be partnerships in 10 years' time but fundamental economic pressures are such that the ability to sustain them to another generation seems very difficult.'

Mr Manning predicted GPs engaging in 'business growth opportunities' would succeed.

Dr Michael Taylor, chair of the Small Practices Association and a GP in Haywood, Lancashire, agreed most partnerships would disappear, but said the most successful would remain: 'If a partnership is a good partnership, I think they will survive, the same as lawyers and accountants.'

Dr Thomas Bloch, a GP in Broadway, Worcestershire, said the younger generation of GPs were less interested in becoming partners.

He added: 'Partners who think they are going to be there for life have an interest in stability, but if the workforce changes to a more sessional workforce, obviously, you're going to need an organisation that employs them.'

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