Exclusive GPs from 38 practices across Ipswich and Suffolk have grouped together to form what could be the UK’s largest GP federation, in response to the Government’s NHS reforms.
Since the beginning of April the practices, which cover a total of 360,000 patients, have joined forces to form the Suffolk GP Federation to ensure they can compete with other providers.
According to its chair Dr Tim Reed the federation will be a not-for-profit community interest company open to all practices and governed by a members’ agreement.
He said practices that make up the federation had decided to group together to ‘overcome the weaknesses inherent in the cottage industry model of traditional primary care’.
He added: ‘Sharing best practice and innovation will enable the group to improve clinical efficiency, vitally important if we are to overcome the challenges currently facing primary care.
‘In a competitive environment, the federation can be one way of bringing into play all the strengths, commitment, passion and quality evident in everyday local general practice,’ he added.
NHS Alliance chair Mike Dixon told Pulse that he thought it was a ‘wonderful thing’ to see general practice taking the initiative.
He said: ‘GPs that are innovative, willing and altruistic and see it as their social responsibility to extend their services is absolutely the way ahead.’
An RCGP spokeswoman welcomed the move. She said: ‘Federations can help GPs to share resources and training opportunities.’
In December a study published by health think tank the King’s Fund and Imperial College London suggested that GP practices should consider operating in federations.
It said London GP practices could move more quickly towards different models of service provision such as operating in federations or networks to enable smaller practices to retain a local focus but provide a wider range of services.