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Superpractices looking to take leadership roles on GP networks across England

by Anviksha Patel
15 April 2019

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Two superpractices are offering to take on leadership roles in a number of primary care networks, including providing back-office support and being a ‘custodian of funds’ for the new networks.
Modality Partnership, a super partnership based in Birmingham, wants to lead primary care networks across the country, its chief executive told HSJ.
Our sister publication Pulse, where this article was first published, has also learned that Our Health Partnership (OHP), the UK’s largest super-partnership has also offered to act as governance for networks.
Under the new GP contract, practices have to join networks of 30,000-50,000 patients in order to access huge chunks of funding.
The networks can be structured in various ways – including all practices having equal rights, or one practice providing all the leadership – but in all cases, a network will have to appoint a practice to receive all the funding.
‘Superpractices’ – which are practices covering hundreds of thousands of patients, and will often have sites in various parts of the country – will not be able to form a single network, the contract has stipulated.
It has emerged that two of these superpractices want to lead networks across the country that will incorporate practices outside their networks.
OHP chair Dr Vish Ratnasuriya told our sister publication Pulse: ‘Our Health Partnership’s offer for PCNs was developed by our 200 GP partners and existing network leads across Birmingham and Shropshire. It builds on our existing culture of collaboration between practices working with the wider system.
‘OHP’s central finance and governance team already support over 50 practices both within the partnership and those aligned for certain clinical services. OHP’s model of support, including the option of holding contracts centrally for PCNs, frees up local clinical leaders to focus on the development of their PCNs and bring together services for patients effectively.’
He added: ‘This will build the collaborative foundations we believe is needed to deliver the vision of the NHS long-term plan over the next five years.’
Modality chief executive Vincent Sai said that Modality practices will offer to act as the custodian of funds when joining a network. The superpractices has sites across England and has offered to lead developing networks in Walsall and mid-Sussex.
Mr Sai stated that ‘We’re already doing it in Walsall.’
He continued: ‘For the networks with the contracts, we’re leading, we are playing the custodian of those [network] funds.’
Modality has seven partners in the area and they were already leading on two networks due to having ‘larger practices in that footprint.’
Mr Sai told Pulse: ‘We have two clinical directors within two PCN sites in Walsall, and Modality Partnership is represented across all Walsall PCNs.’
He told HSJ that they were also in five other Walsall network and ‘we have one [member] site in each’.
He added: ‘What we are doing there is making sure the right leadership is in place for the network. And it doesn’t have to be a Modality partner to be the lead, it needs to make sense for the colleagues on the ground.’
Walsall medical secretary Dr Uzma Ahmad said: ’We have a pilot project running from the last few weeks and Modality are correct in that they are leading on the two described, but this is not a formal arrangement as of yet because the formal network hasn’t taken place.
‘From an LMC point of view, we do welcome all models of general practice to take part in a network. We’re quite open about that. I think it’s a great opportunity for all sorts of models working at scale or Modality or non-Modality practices to work together.
‘The only issue would be to make sure the governance structure is done properly so any conflict of interest must be managed more strictly so there are no other practices at a disadvantage of being in a network with a larger group. This is the kind of work that is in progress at the moment.’
Modality also has said to be developing a network with three of its practice with another non-Modality practice in mid-Sussex.
Mr Sai did not confirm that networks have accepted Modality’s offer to be the leading payee and administrator, as networks are still not formalized as of yet.
A Modality spokesperson told Pulse, however: ‘In terms of leadership, we’re not saying we’re definitely doing it.’
‘We run 10 practices in Walsall and we are already leading and supporting informally across the PCNs there. We are able to offer the support that PCNs need and we want to work together to deliver this.’
The news comes as some practices are being forced by CCGs to form networks with practices who do not have a working relationship.
Meanwhile, NHS England has recently stated that networks do not have to be led by GPs and that with ‘any clinician’ in general practice able to take charge.
This story was first published on our sister publication Pulse.