Exclusive: 14 practices on course to form ‘single partnership’

Article by Rebecca Thomas – 4th July 2016

Fourteen practices in Suffolk are close to agreeing to form a “single partnership” covering 155,000 patients, HSJ understands.

The practices are all member of Suffolk GP Federation, which is overseeing the plans. They all attended a meeting on 23 June to declare their interest in forming a single partnership. A further 10 practices did not attend the meeting but may also be interested in joining, HSJ understands.

Meetings with members will take place over the summer to form a shadow board and practices could be asked to buy into the partnership by September, a source involved in discussions told HSJ.

If the 14 practices do go ahead and form a super partnership, it would be one of the biggest in England.

Suffolk GP Federation chief executive David Pannell said “no firm decisions have been taken” about forming what he described as a “single partnership”.

Mr Pannell said: “Over the last year there have been intensive discussions amongst practices in Suffolk about how to address the severe pressures facing general practice. One option is single partnership and an initial meeting has been held for those potentially interested.

“It is very early days and as you can imagine there are lots of questions and issues which we will start to address over the summer.”

Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group chair Mark Shenton said: “I am delighted that so many of our local practices have supported the proposal to work together so proactively at the first opportunity, with significant numbers considering joining at a later stage.

“Not only will this measure support the sustainability and transformation of general practice, it is imperative for commissioners to have the opportunity to engage with primary care working at scale.”

As HSJ has previously reported, the federation has in recent months consulted on various options for how it can better support member practices. Options it considered included the formation of a super partnership, merging groups of practices, increased sharing of functions across the federation and changing to a salaried GP model.

HSJ understands members of the Suffolk GP Federation which are not included in the 14 forming a “single partnership” have decided against pursuing a salaried GP model, such as that used by London based Hurley Group. Some are considering the possibility of merging, while others are pursuing more shared functions.