Firm bids to buy 100 singlehanded GP practices
A private company has launched an audacious bid to buy up as many as 100 struggling single-handed practices – offering existing GP partners the chance to ‘retire with dignity' while maintaining an interest in the practice.
Dr Michael Paul, a GP who previously built up a group of five private practices in central London with a £7m turnover, is urging single-handed GPs to join The Doctors Practice LLP, a limited liability partnership.
BMA leaders have urged GPs not to take part in the scheme, claiming it plays in to the hands of the privatisation agenda, but Dr Paul says has received a positive response from PCTs who see it as a way of getting rid of poorly performing practices.
Under the scheme, the single-handed GP would retire and take their pension, with Dr Paul taking over the practice's contract with the PCT.
The GP would become a member of The Doctors Practice LLP, with a stake in the overall group. They could, he says, also continue to be involved with their practice as a paid consultant, doing a small number of sessions a week.
Dr Paul said the scheme would bring economies of scale and allow improvements such as extended hours and upgraded premises, ensuring the practice was run ‘like a modern, if you like commercial, operation'.
While former partners would be invited to continue with a small number of sessions a week, most consultations would be with salaried GPs, he said.
‘Four PCTs we've spoken to so far, here and in north London, have all been really quite excited by the idea, because it helps them get rid of poor performing practices.
‘They can't give us a practice, because that would be an APMS thing, but they've been supportive of the idea and said go ahead.'
But Dr Michelle Drage, joint chief executive of Londonwide LMCs, warned: ‘This option plays directly into the privatisation agenda, which we do not believe is in the best interests of the profession, and may be detrimental for young doctors seeking a long-term livelihood with decent pay and conditions.'
A BMA spokesperson added that single-handed GPs on the verge of retirement were encouraged to consider going into partnership with a neighbouring practice to ensure continuity of service.A private company is bidding to take over 100 singlehanded practices, claiming it will allow GPs to 'retire with dignity'