Exclusive The UK’s largest superpractice could reach 400,000 patients by the end of October, according to its GP chair.
Our Health Partnership (OHP), which currently has 370,000 patients, is in discussion with a further four GP practices about joining the super-partnership.
Although it declined to name the practices during the merger talks, OHP said they were based in Birmingham and Shropshire, where it already operates 34 and six practices respectively.
The news comes as rival super-partnership Modality, which also started in the Midlands but now brands itself England’s first ‘national’ superpractice, recently announced an expansion that will increase its patient list size to 380,000 this month.
OHP, which describes itself as ‘the largest GP partnership in the NHS’, currently has a total of 189 partners and covers 370,000 patients across Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield and Shropshire.
OHP chair Dr Vish Ratnasuriya told Pulse that with the four new practices, the partnership will have ‘200 partners and cover 400,000 patients’.
Like other practices that have joined OHP, the plan is for the four new practices to retain their existing contracts, with all of the practices’ partners set to become partners of OHP upon joining.
All practices that join the partnership are required to have at least a ‘good’ CQC rating and pay a one-off joining fee in addition to an annual membership payment.
According to Dr Ratnasuriya, growing the partnership will allow general practice to ‘continue to strengthen our voice and influence, so our GPs lead integration around our practices, rather than have it done to them’ under NHS England’s plans for ‘at scale’ general practice.
He said: ‘Our growth is infilling within our current regions, Birmingham and Shropshire. We believe GP partnerships at scale need to operate at many levels and this includes contributing to, if not leading, the place and integration agenda, so that general practice remains the foundation of any future local health system.’
NHS Shropshire CCG primary care director Nicky Wilde told Pulse that it ‘has not received formal notification of any other Shropshire practices joining’ OHP, but added that the CCG ‘is working positively with those practices that are part of Our Health Partnership’.
Working at scale has long been an NHS England priority, despite research which suggests large-scale general practice doesn’t improve quality of care and actually leads to deterioration in patient satisfaction.