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DH and GP leaders ‘to review partnership model’



The DH is in talks with the BMA and the RCGP over a review of the GP partnership model, the health secretary has announced.

In the House of Commons yesterday, health secretary Jeremy Hunt provided little detail about the formal review, but said it will look at ‘how the partnership model needs to evolve in the modern NHS’.

The health secretary was answering a question from Devon MP Gary Streeter, who asked what the Government plans to do between now and 2020 to help practices ‘struggling to recruit new doctors and new partners in particular. 

Mr Hunt said the Government is ‘doing what we can to reinvigorate the partnership model’.

He said: ‘Since meeting those GPs, I have agreed with the RCGP and the BMA that we will carry out a formal review of how the partnership model needs to evolve in the modern NHS.’

His comments come as the House of Lords Committee on the Long-term Sustainability of the NHS said in a report that the partnership model is ‘no longer fit for purpose’ with the ‘small business model’ of general practice ‘inhibiting change’ what is necessary to put the NHS on a sustainable footing.

Meanwhile, a Pulse survey last year found that just one in five GPs think the partnership model will exist in ten years time.

But Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP committee, said they are ‘looking forward to working with the Government in trying to tackle some of the issues that are barriers for GPs taking on partnership.’

He said: ‘Many salaried GPs, whilst choosing salaried GP as an option now, would like the option of becoming a partner later on, once they’ve got greater confidence or life situations for them change to such a point where they feel comfortable to take on that role.

‘So we need to maintain the partnership model. We recognise that we have to provide flexibility within both that and for employed options for GPs within practices.

‘There’s lots that we think can be done.’

Dr Vautrey added that young doctors are being ‘dissuaded’ from becoming partners because of an increasing expectation ‘to bear the issues relating to indemnity and premises’. 

Other GP leaders predicted last year that the profession will be staffed by salaried-only doctors in the future to the detriment of patients.

GPs being pushed out of partnership?

In a hearing with the Lords committee in December last year, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said that GPs were willing to consider ‘radical’ changes to their model of practise because they have been ‘systematically under-invested in’.

As for the future of the small business model, NHS England announced plans to incentivise all GP practices to work in networks covering 30-50,000 patients

And Pulse has previously reported on the partners jumping ship from their GP practices, amid sustained underfunding of general practice. 

Meanwhile, more than half of partners have said they are willing to consider a salaried role if offered the right deal.