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GP practices considering ‘John Lewis-style’ merger with local trust

Exclusive Nine practices in an English coastal town are considering relinquishing their independent contractor status to join up with the local community trust.

Under the proposals, GPs in Gosport, Hampshire, would form a new organisation with NHS Southern Hampshire Foundation Trust, which would own premises and would pay the GPs a fixed annual salary while removing their personal risk.

The practices have gone as far as submitting financial records to an accountant to see whether it would be viable for the GPs to relinquish their partnerships.

It comes as GPC has strongly backed practices to work together to form ’super practices’ as part of its vision for the future of primary care.

NHS England has also advocated integrated primary and secondary care as part of its Five Year Forward View, and these new proposals are part of the South Hampshire multispecialty community provider (MCP) vanguard, which received funding from NHS England.

Dr Donal Collins, chairman of the Fareham and Gosport Primary Care Alliance and GP lead at the South Hampshire MCP vanguard, said that the structure could be a social enterprise, or a ‘John Lewis-style’ model that would see the employees part-owning the company. 

He said that recruitment problems and fears over pending retirements had led practices to consider giving up their independent contractor status, but only as part of a larger organisation. 

He added: ’I think if we were just looking at the practices and came up with a salary option that probably isn’t going to change much, but if we all get together and the whole business model changes, then we should be able to make a better, more attractive financial offer than what you are currently receiving.’

Dr Collins said that nine out of 11 practices in Gosport are looking into the model, which could take the form of a ‘John Lewis-style’ structure. 

He said: ‘You could have a John Lewis model where all of us, the workers, own it and that is something to be decided by the workers in the area. It is my preference but not necessarily what the majority might want.

Practices have been asked to send their accounts to a medical specialist accountant, with the view to combine these with the NHS Southern Hampshire Foundation Trust, and come back with a firm financial offer to GPs to work in a new ‘risk-free’ model.

NHS Southern Hampshire Foundation Trust, has already taken over premises and staff of one GP practice in the area struggling to keep afloat amid pressures, but Dr Collins said this was a temporary measure to shore up the practice until the MCP model develops.

A spokesman for Fareham and Gosport CCG said: ’The CCG recognises the current sustainability challenges of general practice in all areas of Fareham and Gosport, which are particularly acute in Gosport.

’We have recognised and supported the opportunity of practices working collaboratively and to scale to enhance sustainability and to enable new ways of delivering care for local people that improves their experience, reduces costs and enhances the quality of services.’