Why you should think about taking on a GP practice partner

Bringing a new GP partner into your practice can mean new skills, ideas and investment, and it can be more cost-effective than employing a salaried GP. Consider the costs and benefits.

Location: UK
Audience: GPs Practice managers
Updated: Tuesday 8 September 2020
GP practice article illustration

​There are many benefits in both becoming and taking on a new GP partner, such as continuity of care and a sense of ownership of the practice. Coupled with this, tax regulations can be an incentive for GP partners to share their workload.

The BMA encourages practices to take on more partners for the reasons set out below.

 

Background

Since the introduction of the GMS contract, practices are increasingly taking on salaried GPs rather than partners.

The BMA GP committee believes the independent contractor model is the gold standard for patient care in general practice. With less partners, we are concerned that a different model of delivering services is growing. The successful future of general practice in the UK may be undermined.

 

Comparison of a partner versus a sessional GP

Salaried GPs GP partners
Average salary (with expenses) £90,000 £105,500
Contract Model salaried GP contract allowing for maternity, sickness and redundancy pay and CPD sessions. Maternity leave as per practice agreement.
Sickness cover for limited time/covered by insurance.
Working hours Bound by the European Working Time Directive. Not bound by EWTD - can be more flexible.

Tax

There is a 50% income tax rate on total income over £150,000, phasing out of personal allowance after £100,000 and no personal allowance after £112,950.

Instead of paying these rates, partners could improve their work-life balance by taking on more staff, reducing their income and time commitment to the practice. A new GP partner is one way to achieve this.

 

55% of sessional GPs want to become profit-sharing partners in future.

BMA sessional GP survey

Benefits of employing a GP partner

Investment and risk management

Partners can help with:

  • financial commitment and investment in large-cost items, such as premises
  • sharing financial risks, rewards and capital burden
  • increasing the practice's financial viability.

Partnership can be effectively regulated by a competent partnership agreement.

Continuity

Usually, partners will stay in a practice for a long time. This helps GPs develop ‘ownership’ of patients and their care, and are in turn ‘owned’ by patients as ‘their’ doctor. This is a relationship that patients value.

Ownership

A partner takes a share in the profits and losses of a practice, and a share in the decisions that shape its future.

Partners are responsible for all aspects of the practice’s contractual liabilities. This gives them both a financial and personal incentive for the practice to be a success.

New skills and ideas

A new partner could:

  • help with practice strategy and policy, future planning and service development
  • bring personal skills, for example, they may have advanced business skills or a special medical interest, meaning the practice can provide additional medical services
  • their skills can be an invaluable tool to attract new patients and stave off competition from alternative providers
  • bring increased earnings to the practice through work with the CCG.
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