Five tips for new GP partners

Dr Tommy Perkins, GP partner and co-founder of Medics’ Money, offers some advice for new GP partners.

Dr Tommy Perkins

As a partner myself, I know how daunting becoming a GP partner can be. GP training taught us plenty about medicine but very little about the business of running a GP practice. This can be overwhelming, and I experienced this five years ago when I became a new partner.

As the co-founder of Medics’ Money, a unique GP-led organisation that helps doctors to make better financial decision I was fortunate to get guidance from the best GP experts in the business. Here are five things I learned to help you avoid becoming overwhelmed and start your partnership experience positively.

1. Don’t miss out on free money

For eligible partners it’s possible to claim up to £20,000 plus a contribution towards on-costs of up to £4,000 (for a full-time participant) from NHS England's new to partnership scheme, as well as up to £3,000 in a training fund to develop non-clinical partnership skills.But bear in mind that you do need to actually claim this money.

The £3,000 training grant can be used to fund training programs like the Medics’ Money New to GP Partnership programme – an innovative online programme that has taught over 200 partners everything they need to know to thrive, not just survive, in their new role. The next course starts on 5 October  online and you can apply here.

For those not eligible for the new to partnership funding, you may be able to use the leadership and management payment from the 2022/23 PCN DES to fund training to help support you as a partner depending on arrangements within your primary care network.

2. Get a good partnership agreement

A well drafted partnership agreement is essential to protect all members of the partnership. Without it you will be a 'partnership at will' which gives you little protection in the event of problems.

Things to consider include a last person standing clause, a green socks clause, maternity and paternity clauses, retirement clauses and leave entitlements. A GP partnership agreement is a specialist document best drafted by a solicitor specialising in this. This Medics' Money podcast will give you some pointers.

3. Conduct a SWOT analysis

So you want to improve your practice but don’t know where to start? A 'strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats' or 'SWOT' analysis is a simple business technique for you to identify opportunities to improve. If you do it as a partnership it can help to set strategy and agree direction as a leadership team. If 'random changes of government policy' isn’t in your threats column, you’re doing it wrong. This podcast gives you some things to consider when joining a partnership.

4. Don’t neglect your pension

If you’ve neglected your pension thus far now is the time to take it seriously. The NHS pension is still one of the best around but it does need some annual maintenance and unfortunately there are plenty of tax pitfalls for unwary partners to fall into.

At the very minimum you need an up-to-date total reward statement and request an annual allowance and membership statement request from NHS Pensions. Primary Care Support England (PCSE) recently released a feature to enable you to check what PCSE think your pension contributions are. Check the data – mistakes are common.

Once you have checked your records take some time to learn about the issues such as the annual allowance, the lifetime allowance and more recently how inflation can affect your pension.

5. Understand the finances

It is absolutely vital that you understand the accounts and finances of your new practice and as GPs ourselves we know that little is taught during GP training about the business of general practice. Yet running a safe sustainable and profitable practice is absolutely vital.

The Medics’ Money New to GP Partnership course is a unique collaboration between GP partners and GP business experts. We’ve taught over 200 partners everything they need to know to thrive, not just survive, in their new role. Find out more here.

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