Six common questions GPs ask Solicitors
1 October 2016 by Neemah Ahamed
If you have an outdated Partnership Agreement, are considering taking 24 hour retirement, leasing new premises or establishing a GP practice then the overview below will be useful. We are able to advise you on various aspects of your business.
- Should Partnership agreements be updated?
Partnership Agreements should be reviewed regularly to ensure that they comply with the regulatory framework (including GMS/PMS) within which they operate and that they reflect the professional arrangements between the partners. If your partnership agreement pre dates GMS/PMS regulations then it may be necessary to draft a new agreement.
Provided there is one general medical practitioner in a partnership, the GMS and PMS regulations enable nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals to become members of such partnerships. However, in order to be admitted as a member the individual must be directly involved in the practice in a professional capacity. If you would like to admit a non-GP partner into your partnership then your Partnership Agreement will need to be amended to include regulations they must comply with and responsibilities they will need to undertake.
- Should 24 hour retirement be addressed in the Partnership Agreement?
We would advise you to have your Partnership Agreement reviewed to confirm there are no provisions in it that preclude the 24 hour retirement rules from operating. Terms relating to 24 hour retirement should be set out in a policy statement. The statement should include the following:
- Highlight the 24 hour retirement rules
- Outline how a partner can benefit from these rules
- Support flexible retirement
- Clearly set out the return to work arrangements
- Do GP’s who are partners in CQC registered partnerships need to inform CQC if they retire for 24 hours from their NHS contract?
According to NHS England and the British Medical Association, a GP who is a partner in a CQC registered partnership and retires for 24 hours from their NHS contract, does not retire from his responsibilities as a partner of a CQC registered partnership. He will still be responsible for providing regulated activities under the CQC registered partnership during the 24 hour period.
GP partners therefore do not need to inform CQC when they are taking 24 hour retirement.
- If you are considering taking 24 hour retirement what should you consider?
- How many hours you will work when you return?
- Have your accountants been consulted?
- Will a locum cover your work? Who will bear the costs?
- Are you a sole practitioner? If you are then 24 hour retirement may not be as straightforward because it may not be possible to reinstate your NHS contract.
- What should you be aware of when negotiating a FRI lease for your GP Practice?
Under a full repairing and insuring lease (FRI) you will be responsible for the full cost of all repairs and insurance (external, internal or structural). You should consider your potential costs particularly in relation to the repairs, maintenance and reinstatement of the premises. As a tenant of an FRI lease you may be liable for repairs to the property even if your Landlord has caused the damage. Some leases include an obligation to rebuild and such provisions should be not been included short term leases. You should seek legal advice before entering into any lease.
- Apart from operating as a partnership what other sort of business models can a GP surgery adopt?
If you own the premises from which your surgery operates, you may want to consider selling your GP surgery to an investor and leasing it back from them. The advantages of this are:
- Increased flexibility
- Ability to release equity from your practice
- A continuous capital investment will no longer need to be injected into your property
Alternatively you can incorporate a limited liability company (LLC). As opposed to partners who are personally liable for the debts of the partnership (unless they operate under a limited liability partnership), shareholders of an LLC do not incur any personal liability. A number of practices have begun to form LLC’s as a result of the Primary Medical Services (Sales of Goodwill and Restrictions on Sub-Contracting Regulations 2004) to provide elaborate services to their patients. Some GP’s incorporate companies which are separate from the entities which hold their patients’ lists. In this way a company can be sold for a price that reflects the goodwill of the core business.
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us – call 01245 584515 or email [email protected].
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