GPOnline reported last week that GP-led company The Practice had taken over a second company, Chilvers McCrea, to become England's largest provider of general practice services.
The Practice now runs 50 GP surgeries in total, covering more than 150,000 patients, and plans to form a network of commissioning consortia. The company also says it will offer GPs opportunities by creating more training practices and allowing them to specialise.
GP35 member Dr Kamal Sidhu, a partner in East Durham said: 'I think this is welcome news that increases choice for like minded practices. This also goes to show that there are many motivated GPs out there who are willing to convert the new opportunities into a success story.
'Hopefully, such ventures will not only reduce risk by increasing their size but also benefit patient services positively. Such developments should act as a catalyst for the rest of us to get our act together as there is no going back now.'
But fellow GP35 member Dr Osman Bhatti said: 'This is obviously privatisation by the front door! We have been working hard to lessen the divide between partners and salaried GPs and now we have a third party involved – the private sector.'
He warned the emergence of large providers could undermine continuity of care and limit opportunities for young GPs.
'There needs to be some kind of rethink to promote the ethos of a GP training in an area and then being able to use the knowledge gained to promote and enhance the patients they look after rather than a private company coming in, employing outside GPs with little local experience who are there for a short while before moving on to their next post and the door revolving again.'
GP35 member Dr Raj Thakkar said: 'In principle it's difficult to say whether or not it's good for general practice. Saying they can offer better opportunities for training implies other practices are not offering good opportunities, information which may be ill founded.
'Nevertheless if their management structure offers cost savings which can be passed on to patients without adversely affecting GPs who aren't in the group, and they adhere to national standards, then the future certainly looks interesting.'