Final report on GP partnership review to surface in January

Final recommendations from an independent review to revitalise the GP partnership model will be published early in the new year, according to the senior GP leading it.

Partnership review chair Dr Nigel Watson (Photo: Pete Hill)
Partnership review chair Dr Nigel Watson (Photo: Pete Hill)

GPC member and Wessex LMCs chief executive Dr Nigel Watson told the English LMCs conference that his findings would be published early in the new year.

Speaking to GPonline at the conference, Dr Watson confirmed he was now 'pretty clear' about the main findings that would appear in his report - and that workload, workforce, bureaucracy and the status of general practice would feature heavily.

Dr Watson said he had been asked to report by the end of the year to NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and health and social care secretary Matt Hancock - but that he wanted the review published in the first few weeks of 2019.

Review findings

The review chair said: 'I think this is so important I don’t want it to go out on Christmas Eve and get buried - I want it to get the attention it deserves and needs.'

Dr Watson's comments followed a debate and a series of votes on partnerships at the LMCs conference. GPs at the conference backed calls for limited liability partnerships, but confirmed that the partnership model of general practice was the only option the profession would consider.

Dr Watson highlighted identifying the workforce required in general practice - both GPs and other clinicians - as one of the main planks his final report would cover. It would consider the extent to which the profession needed new staff and how best the existing workforce could be used to maximum effect, he said.

Addressing intolerable workload in general practice - in part through expansion of the workforce, but also through setting out measures to reduce administrative and contractual burdens on GPs - would also be a key focus of the report, he said. The status of general practice - recognition as a specialism on a par with consultant status, and equal promotion in medical schools, was also a key factor.

Bureaucracy

Dr Watson backed comments from GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey at the LMCs conference about 'microschemes' that wrap practices up in bureaucracy as they try to access new funding sources.

'We need a better way of contracting,' he said. Although he believed that 'core GMS or PMS doesn’t fundamentally need to change' the way that practices were forced to bid against each other and against other providers for 'all sorts of extra funding streams' placed an excessive burden on them and led to a postcode lottery.

He said he was hopeful the review could 'deliver some change and revitalise the partnership model'.

However, after GPonline reported last week that the government planned to fund the state-backed indemnity scheme from existing resources allocated to general practice, the New Forest GP warned that it would 'not go down well if partners end up funding it entirely'.

He said it was vital that the £20.5bn planned increase in funding for the NHS over the next five years delivered extra resources and staff in general practice. Negotiations on indemnity were complex, Dr Watson added: 'I won't judge it until I see it.'

An interim report on the partnership review published earlier this year called on the government to incentivise partnership roles over locum and salaried posts.

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