Becoming GP partners would give practice managers more influence over decisions and could benefit practices by introducing further ‘resilience and sustainability’, a consultant business manager has said.
Speaking at the Management in Practice virtual festival last week (23 October), Tracy Dell said practice managers could bring a lot to partnerships and many were already carrying out partner responsibilities in their current roles, but without the formal title and potential perks attached.
NHS England’s New to Partnership scheme, launched in July, has yet to be extended to practice managers and other non-clinicians – a decision Ms Dell called devastating.
The scheme, which NHS England has said practice managers will be included in at a later date, also offers a £3,000 training fund to equip new partners for the role.
But the fact that practice and business managers already possess many of the necessary skills adds further salt to the wound, Ms Dell said.
She added: ‘It would be nice to be included in that and truly recognised and valued for the work that practice managers bring.
‘I think it’s a case of watching this space. There’s a huge campaign going on at the moment, involving LMCs and individual practices and practice managers, which are challenging the fact that managers have been excluded from the scheme.’
‘An alternative perspective’
Ms Dell went on to say that becoming a managing partner could lead to several benefits, including giving the practice a more ‘business-focused approach’, as practice managers will have ‘very strong financial management skills’ and operational experience.
‘You’ve got to consider what becoming a managing partner would bring to the skill mix, and how that would change the partnership. Perhaps managing partners would bring the opportunity for clinical partners and GPs to focus more on clinical areas,’ she said.
Practice managers would also bring an alternative perspective to the table, she added, which is important because ‘a multidisciplinary approach to partnership would hugely benefit patients in the long-term’.
Things to consider
Ms Dell advised practice managers to consider a number of factors before making the leap to partnership, including what type of partner they think they would want to be.
Some of the options include becoming a profit-sharing partner, a salaried partner, or the tiered approach to partnership – where each member of the partnership is paid the going rate for their piece of work, with the rest of the profit shared out – Ms Dell said.
She added: ‘If you are bringing equal amounts of contribution to that partnership, then you should be paid an equal amount of the partnership share. So know your worth, and use that when you actually negotiate the partnership options with the partners.’
Ms Dell said that potential partners would also need to think about their new working hours, key responsibilities, voting rights, flexible working options, and pension and financial liabilities.
‘As a premises partner, you may be expected to buy into the property, or it may be in the partnership agreement that you must bind to the property as a partner,’ she said.
‘So it’s looking at whether the premises are leased, owned or mortgaged, and what capital you would need to buy into that – and with regards to the lease, you’ve got to look at the terms and conditions of it, making sure that there’s nothing in there preventing you from being a partner.’