This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Day in the life: Leading a GP federation

Head of multi-practice provider GP Care Dr Phil Yates describes a typical day running the network

Phil Yates

Profile: Dr Phil Yates

Age: 58

Role: Chair, GP Care, and a GP partner

Location: Bristol

Days worked per week: Five days, half at GP Care and the other half in clinical sessions




The alarm goes, but I may have been up in the night writing articles or thinking about work we’re trying to develop. I love the silence of those early hours and the uninterrupted chance to concentrate.


I’m in the office and have some quiet time before everyone arrives. I catch up with the latest news from websites and blogs – Pulse, King’s Fund and others. I forward interesting articles to others in the team. GP Care is a federation of 100 GP practices that have pooled resources and created a provider company. I was appointed chair in 2006.


Colleagues arrive. Whatever the level of their work, it’s important they know they’re valued and, as chair, I make a point of speaking to them if I can. I want empowered colleagues, not a hierarchy.


Today it’s the senior management team meeting with my CEO, director of business development, director of operations and HR director. We’re discussing four AQP contracts we’ve won – morale is high because of the wins, but delivery at the quality we aspire to will be a challenge. I rely heavily on the strength of others.

For me this teamwork is stimulating, having spent more than 30 years in one-to-one consultations.


I chat to my CEO and finalise the agenda for our monthly board meeting. The non-executive members need assurance about how a service will be delivered. Our strategy in the 2014/15 business plan goes to the board. We’ve refined it over three months, so hopefully it will be signed off.


I travel to our local foundation trust. I’ve arranged to see the lead cardiologist about ‘consultant link’ – an advice line that connects GPs to specialists to help support the patient and reduce referrals. The idea is to bridge the communications gulf between specialists and generalists, and I need to ask him whether the system working well for his team.


Our out-of-hours provider (which started life as a GP co-op) has invited me to an education event. It’s great to be there, but chatting with other GPs reinforces the view that practices are under huge strain.


I work as clinical lead for CKD; my daughter had a transplant so I have a clear interest. I’m taking a session at the GP update day in two weeks and make sure I include the latest guidance.


I attack my emails. Fantastic! The expedition company has confirmed my fundraising trek in the High Andes.

For years, I have used my spare time
to volunteer on expeditions. Recently I have volunteered in the Sahara, at the top of Kilimanjaro, on the Great Wall of China, at Everest Base Camp and on the Inca Trail.


Just in time for the train. I’m speaking at a CCG symposium. Bristol, like many other cities, wants to examine its options for setting up a GP provider company like GP Care and is comparing models that work elsewhere.

I can’t help thinking that federations will be ubiquitous in general practice in the near future. 


I’m home. A glass of Rioja and Question Time is all I can handle now.

I would never have taken this role when my children were young. But now my wife can see how invigorated the role has made me and is accommodating. I haven’t had time to address today’s emails and correspondence, but I’ll do them early tomorrow morning.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Bob Hodges

    I still feel that Federations are a solution in search of a problem.

    I suspect it's just a reaction to the DoH imposing an unsustainable and financially unworkable environment in which we must do business upon us.

    If no one is offerring to take your business off you, even for free, you might start to wondering why you're doing it.........oh yes, it's because ther only thing 'unlimited' in General Practice is MY financial Liability if we're forced to close the practice.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The alarm goes, but I may have been up in the night writing articles......Why are doctors proud that they work totally stupid hours?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • great work--yes federation is the only way forwards--working from small four walls is a thing of past

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Great to hear but what are the outcomes and profit and how do the weakest high referrer get on

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • You'll be lucky if you make 68 ! Or get to enjoy the grandchildren!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say