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NHS England: NHS body could help struggling ‘last partner standing’ practices

An NHS body could take on the lease of practices that find themselves in a ‘last partner standing’ situation, NHS England has said.
Speaking at the Westminster Health Forum Event in London last week, NHS England director of primary care workforce and infrastructure Ian Biggs presented the emerging themes of the upcoming General Practice Premises Policy Review.
Mr Biggs said talks with the BMA GP Committee and the RCGP are ongoing but solutions – which include the introduction of a body that could shoulder the lease of practices in ‘last partner standing’ situations – are being explored.

Last year, NHS England launched an open call for GPs to propose solutions to issues concerning GP practice premises.

The consultation, which closed in September, formed part of the ongoing six-month review of GP premises by NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the GPC.

The recommendations from this consultation are expected to be published in the spring, as part of the General Practice Premises Policy Review.
Speaking about some of the recommendtaions currently being discussed Mr Biggs said: ‘There is something about an NHS body or another body to take on some of the leases where there are problems associated with the last partner standing’.
The ‘last partner standing’ – also known as ‘last man standing’ – indicates a situation in which one partner finds themselves bearing all the liabilities and obligations owned by the practice, after unsuccessful attempts to find new partners.

The GP partnership review, published earlier this month, called on NHS England to consider ways to reduce the risks associated with being a lease holder or property owner, in a bid to make the GP partnership model more attractive.
Currently, GMS or PMS holders cannot operate under alterative business models such as the Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP), where partners are both owners and managers with limited liability.
According to the partnership review, the Government and the GPC should allow GMS and PMS contract holders to set up an LLP or mutuals – companies where customers and policyholders are also the owners.
Mr Biggs said they are also looking into the ‘professionalisation of property ownership and management’ and considering whether ‘partnership and property ownership should be separate rather than part of the same business model’.

NHS England and the BMA said they cannot comment at this stage.

A version of this article was first published by Pulse’s sister title Management in Practice.