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

by Valeria Fiore
29 January 2019

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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 on 24 January, NHS England director of primary care workforce and infrastructure programmes Ian Biggs presented the emerging themes of the upcoming General Practice Premises Policy Review.
Mr Biggs said talks with the BMA General Practitioner 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.
NHS England and the BMA said they cannot comment at this stage.
More details of this are expected to be published in the spring, as part of the General Practice Premises Policy Review.
‘Last partner standing’
Mr Biggs said that, as they begin to shape up some recommendation to include in the review, ‘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, according to a BMA document.
NHS England should 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, according to the recently published GP partnership review.
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 GP 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.
Other emerging themes
Mr Biggs said that they are also looking into the ‘professionalization of property ownership and management’ and considering whether ‘partnership and property ownership should be separate rather than part of the same business model’.
Changes to the costs supported under the GP Premises Costs Directions and further ‘support for general practice in strategic estates planning, transformation and capital bids’ are also being considered as part of the review.