General practitioner Practice manager GP practices England Northern Ireland Wales

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Legal pros and cons of GP networks and working in big practices

There is no single legal model for a GP network, which can range from a loose alliance of practices to a highly managed set up. The key thing is the need to agree a collective vision to enable the process to run quickly, efficiently and cost effectively.

Some of the corporate vehicles which might be utilised when deciding to form a GP network include:

  • Company limited by shares
  • Company limited by guarantee
  • Community Interest Company
  • Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)
  • Social enterprise

For each legal form, the corporate and commercial independence of individual GP practices can be maintained whilst at the same time encouraging service integration, shared values or single culture, efficiency and economies of scale.

GPC has produced guidance on the most common corporate structures used to set up a GP networks. The guidance explores the pros and cons of each of the different legal structures.

Download the GPC guidance on the common legal structures for GP networks

 

General Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Strength in numbers Filing requirements - formal entities are regulated, potential sanctions from Companies House
Leverage in commissioning primary care (formal structures preferable) IT, websites, advertising all to be aware of
Enhanced foothold in the new health arena Possible competition law aspects, which seek to prevent monopolies in an area
Enhanced financials Aligning finances
Investors and builders are more likely to work with a large viable business Corporate and clinical governance policies

Once you are all up and running, have registered with Companies House and have appointed directors, there are still some practical aspects that need to be addressed, including:

  • Registered office
  • Funding
  • Bank accounts and signatories
  • Disclaimers on websites/email
  • Letterheads
  • Staffing

 

Summary

The benefits of federating are that the significant challenges facing primary care can be addressed together rather than by individual practices on their own.

GPs own an organisation with the management and infrastructure required to successfully bid for contracts (such as the new Public Health Services Contracts previously known as LESs) in the new competitive NHS environment.

Forming a GP network could:

  • Reduce costs
  • Raise standards of management – having a single management team can allow practices to grow business development skills
  • Provide the critical mass to allow GPs to concentrate on different priorities and develop service and clinical specialties
  • Support the provision of a wider range of services from hospital setting and the sustainable provision of high quality services.

BMA Law

We can provide specialist legal advice on the full range of matters contained here.
Please do not hesitate to contact us at BMA Law on 020 7383 6976 or [email protected]

Please note: this area of the law is a complex subject and you should not take or refrain from taking any step without full legal advice on your particular circumstances. The content of this note is of a general nature and no liability is accepted in connection with it or if any reliance is placed on it.

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