GP federation could create a ‘super partnership’ covering 540,000 patients

Health Service Journal article by Nick Renaud-Komiya – 14th March 2016

One of the country’s largest GP federations is consulting with its member practices on proposals that could see it form a “super partnership”.

Suffolk GP Federation – a group of 61 independent GP practices covering a 540,000 population – is currently registered as a community interest company.

Chief executive David Pannell told HSJ the organisation was considering options in order to allow it to provide more support to its members.

Mr Pannell said: “Many of those who formed federations realise there is a limit to the amount of support they can give to practices.

“Suffolk GP Federation is already exploring different options for moving forward, including super partnerships. The practices have to choose what they want, the federation is neutral [on the best option].”

Creating a super partnership with all member practices involved could in theory allow the organisation to have a simpler governance structure by allowing it to becoming a single organisation with a single patient list.

Local stakeholders have been presented with a consultation paper discussing the various options for the development of the organisation.

Mr Pannell listed a number of options under consideration. These include:

  • establishing a super partnership;
  • creating loose, small networks of practices;
  • mergers of groups of three to four practices within the federation;
  • changing to a salaried model, along the lines of the London based Hurley Group;
  • continue as a federation, but sharing more functions; and
  • continuing in its current form and waiting for future opportunities.

A newsletter published on the federation’s website last month said: “In late January, 22 practices attended a meeting which explored super partnerships in more detail.

“The session discussed key questions such as clinical models, ownership, property, decision making, managing day to day issues and what should be decided locally and what centrally?

“Your board will… prepare a firm proposal setting out the principles of a Suffolk super partnership and how it would work, to facilitate discussion.”

The federation said it had consulted with lawyers on how different models could work from a legal perspective.

A roadshow is going around the region to get the views of practices. A decision on how to proceed is expected in the summer.