Lynne Abbess, partner of specialist medical law firm Hempsons, said many practices do not have up-to-date partnership deeds or employment contracts. 'If practices don't have a stable foundation on which to build there is a risk the whole thing will crumble,' Ms Abbess warned.
'A lot of GPs don't have a partnership deed at all, and others have a dusty one in the back of the cupboard, which is no longer valid either because of government-enforced chan-ges or because new partners have since been taken on.'
Ms Abbess said that a business without a partnership deed is 'one of the most unstable businesses you can have'.
She also said practices looking to federate or work together should check that partners they are planning to 'jump into bed with' are in good shape to avoid the risk of fallout in the future.
'It is certain that there will be changes in general practices owing to the change in government, but before GPs can seize these wider opportunities they need to ensure their house is in order by ensuring their partnership deeds are in place, and their contracts of employment are up to date, she said.
'Before we go into this brave new world, we need to get our existing world in good order.
If not, it is likely to make the changes more difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.'