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Almost half of practices predict merger or restructure in next five years

by Valeria Fiore
2 May 2018

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Growing financial pressures mean almost half of GP practices are considering a merge or restructure in the next five years, a survey has found.
The majority (85%) of the 145 GPs who responded to the Lloyds Bank commercial banking healthcare confidence index survey published today (2 May), said they expect financial pressures to mount over the next five years.
In response to these pressures, 48% of them are considering merging or changing their practice’s structure.
The news comes after figures released by NHS Digital last year revealed that over 200 practices closed or merged between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017, with almost half (47%) of CCGs in England saying they had experienced GP practice closures or mergers.
The partnership model
The GPs surveyed raised concerns when asked about succession, with 33% intending to retire within five years and 57% within a decade. 
It is becoming increasingly difficult to find GP partners, with almost two-thirds of GPs who responded to a survey by our sister publication Pulsebelieving that the partnership model will not exist in ten years’ time, as younger GPs have little interest in taking on partnerships.
But GPs at March’s local medical committee (LMC)conference voted against a motion that proposed to encourage non-clinical staff to become partners in a bid to save the partnership model.  
This is despite more than 4% of practice managers who reached partner statusas early as 2013, a survey by our sister publication Pulse found.
Growing demand
Almost three quarters (72%) of GPs believe that the average practice will have more than 10,000 patients in five years’ time, up from 54% last year, the survey found.  
However, despite acknowledging the growing demand on primary care, almost two thirds (60%) of GPs feel profits will remain stable or grown over the next year, the survey showed.
Commenting on the findings, head of healthcare banking services at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking Ian Crompton said: ‘Sentiment among GPs continues to improve, and could turn positive for the first time in 2019 if that trend continues’.