Rogers & Norton News

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Dealing with GP Partnerships and Disputes

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Following on from the successful talk given by me and Peter Hastings to the GP Registrars last year, we were pleased to be invited back to talk to this year’s group of GP Registrars about the pros and cons of going into a general practice partnership.

Keith Shorten and Rebecca Gascoyne-Richardsfrom Lovewell Blake are experts in advising doctors in private practice on their accounting and taxation issues and, having established our own specialism in advising doctors here at R&N, it was good to have the opportunity of talking to so many young and enthusiastic GP Registrars last Wednesday, 15 March.

It can be a daunting prospect for doctors, taking on the responsibilities of running a practice, on top of the day to day care of looking after patients, so understanding the practice accounts, the issues to look for when entering into a partnership agreement, and what to do should they have problems with the agreement at a later date are really important. 

I have acted for a number of GP partnerships and doctors individually over the last 20 years, and have built up a portfolio of practices for which I advise on their partnership issues, but also their premises issues and many other things besides.

We are often able to assist with other areas of law, such as employment issues, and disputes with the NHS and others, plus where partners leave a partnership, this can be because of all sorts of reasons: retirement, simply moving to another practice or, because they are in dispute with their fellow partners, or suspended from practising.  These can be challenging things to deal with, but having an understanding of medical practices, how the NHS works and what doctors are paid whilst they are suspended, all helps me and Peter advise on these matters.  We have considerable experience of these issues and are happy to give initial advice as needed, followed up by more detailed advice if the issue requires it.

It is quite clear from my discussions with my clients and also, with the GP Registrars attending the training day that many of them are wary of becoming partners in GP practices because of the potential liabilities and also, because currently, the difference between what a GP can earn as a partner or as a salaried doctor is sometimes not so great as it once was.

Because of our experience, we were able to, hopefully, put some of these issues into context for the GP Registrars and, at the same time, to make it clear that by ensuring there is a robust and up to date partnership agreement in place dealing with, not only the important things like profit sharing, but also issues relating to property and, in particular, partnership leases and ensuring there are mechanisms to deal with partnership issues and indemnities given on a partner leaving the practice,  this can help reassure new partners that, whilst there are always challenges in becoming a partner, having a well-drawn and up to date partnership agreement can overcome many of their concerns.

If you have any queries or require more information, please contact Richard at rwje@rogers-norton.co.uk or 01603 675627 or Peter Hastings at ph@rogers-norton.co.uk or on 01603 675639.

More details can be found on the Rogers & Norton website

Finally, I am pleased to say that the talk must have gone down reasonably well, as we have been invited back to talk to the GP Registrars next year.