So how are you faring since the Health and Social Care Act 2012 came into force on 1 April 2013? After a stormy start (which included delays in contract payments for many practices and complications around the new rent reimbursement processes created by a change in landlord for those practices in NHS Property Services owned buildings) the dust has well and truly settled – leaving many GPs grappling to get onto the ‘GP Federation’ ladder in order to supplement their somewhat diminished income stream.
No longer able to rely solely on funding from NHS England, GPs are now, more than ever, having to become entrepreneurs in business – negotiating terms and bidding for new services contracts from the CCGs and Local Authorities.
The tendering process can be long-winded and time-consuming (unless you are unusual enough to be the only potential provider of a particular service). You may well have concluded by now that your best (and maybe only) chance of success in the new world of competitive bids and tenders, is for you to join forces with your neighbouring Practices. You can share the responsibility, liability and workload (both during the bidding process and after the contract has been won) and when done well you can better protect yourself, your colleagues and your patients from the vagaries of the health commissioners.
Many GPs have concluded that federating is the way forward and it goes without saying that you shouldn’t rely on the goodwill of your GP acquaintances and a handshake to seal the terms of your joint working. There are a number of options available to you when setting up a joint venture company and I will be exploring these in more detail in future blogs.