The review, announced in February, will look at how the partnership model needs to evolve to meet the needs of a modern NHS.
The GP appointed to lead the review is a current GPC member, a long-standing chair of one of the largest LMCs in England - and has been heavily involved in developing emerging new models of care.
Dr Watson is the former chair of a multispecialty community provider (MCP) that established musculoskeletal practitioners and fully-funded pharmacists in GP practices and implemented an electronic consulting service in more than 80% of Hampshire practices.
He has also played a leading role in developing the voluntary MCP contract - which aimed to bring GP practices into a 'multi-year contract with payment operating on the basis of a whole population budget, a new pay-for-performance incentive scheme and risk-and gain-share agreement with the acute sector'.
New models of care
The Wessex LMCs chief has since taken on a leadership role in the Hampshire and Isle of Wight sustainability and transformation partnership (STP).
Dr Watson said: 'It is a great honour to chair the review and I plan to engage widely with organisations, as well as frontline clinicians and practice staff, to identify the challenges and will make a number of recommendations about how the partnership model can work in the future.'
Commenting on the review, health secretary Jeremy Hunt added: ‘The GP partnership model has benefited patients over the years but in an ever-evolving NHS environment we need to consider new ways to reinvigorate the current model.
‘Dr Nigel Watson will lead the review and work closely with partners to explore how the partnership model can continue to benefit both GPs and patients.’
The BMA has backed the review, but has made clear it should be about 'reinvigorating' the partnership model rather than replacing it. GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the GP partnership model 'is the foundation on which the rest of the NHS is built'.
Mr Hunt’s commitment to a joint review of partnerships comes after official data reported by GPonline last year showed that the profession lost almost 2,000 partners between September 2015 and September 2017.
BMA leaders have said the review must deliver incentives not only to keep existing partners in post, but also to persuade younger doctors to take on the role.
The DHSC, NHS England, the BMA and the RCGP are currently working to finalise the terms and conditions of the review.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, said: ‘With around 1m patient appointments every day, GP practices are the frontline of our health service. The great strength of British general practice has been its diversity and adaptability. So in the year the NHS turns 70, this review will help shape new options for future generations of family doctors.
‘That means keeping all that is best about the here and now, while also asking thoughtful questions about how the partnership clinical, business and career model might evolve for the future.’
Dr Vautrey added: 'We know that our independent contractor status and GP partnership model are good for doctors, our staff, patients, communities and the wider NHS, but we also know that many practice partnerships are struggling to recruit new GPs as doctors raise increasing concerns about rising workload pressures, premises liabilities and indemnity risks.
'Valuing and building on the partnership model is at the heart of our Saving General Practice report and we are glad the health secretary has listened to us and commissioned this review into reinvigorating the model. On the year the NHS turns 70, we look forward to working with Dr Watson and other stakeholders to ensure the core principles behind general practice are preserved for the next seven decades and beyond.'
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said the GP partnership model had been 'a trailblazer for innovation in the NHS' but that recruiting partners was proving increasingly difficult. The college has backed the review as a way to 'invigorate' GP partnerships for the future.
'Dr Nigel Watson is an incredibly experienced GP, with an excellent understanding of the NHS and the challenges it faces,' she said. 'We look forward to working with Nigel constructively to feed into this review.'