30 November 2013

Partnership changes and how they affect General Medical Services (GMS) Contracts

Changes to the composition of a partnership may require a variation to the standard registration conditions with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

It is equally important to note that the regulations surrounding primary medical services contracts (the National Health Service (General Medical Services Contracts) Regulations 2004) (“the Regulations”) place restrictions on the organisational structures that are acceptable for some contracting routes, namely GMS and Personal Medical Services (PMS).

The following scenarios relate specifically to partnerships and GMS contracts.

Sole practitioner changing to a partnership

Where a GMS contractor is currently an individual medical practitioner with a GMS contract and they wish to enter into a partnership with one or more individuals under that contract, they must notify NHS England in writing and provide a written notice of their intention to change the status of their contract from that of a sole practitioner to a partnership.

The notice must:

  • include the date on which the contractor wishes to change its status, which shall not be less than 28 days from the proposed date of the change of status;
  • state whether or not it is to be a limited partnership and if so, who is a limited and who is a general partner; • confirm that the proposed partner is either a medical practitioner, or a person who satisfies the conditions specified in the NHS Act;
  • confirm that the proposed partner is a person who satisfies the conditions imposed by regulations 4 and 5 of the Regulations (at least one partner must be a general medical practitioner); and
  • be signed by the individual contractor and by the person or each of the persons (as the case may be), with whom he is proposing to practise in partnership.

Partnership changing to a sole practitioner

Where a GMS contractor consists of a partnership and that partnership is terminated or dissolved, the contract shall continue with one of the former partners if the name of the partner is given to NHS England under a specified notice.

This notice needs to:

  • be sent to the NHS Commissioning Board not less than 28 days before the proposed date of change taking effect, to advise them that the partnership is to be dissolved or terminated;
  • specify the date on which the change will take place;
  • specific the name of the medical practitioner with whom the contract will continue; and
  • be signed by all of the current partners. The area team of NHS England must then consider and respond to the notice, checking that any remaining partner is eligible to hold

the contract. They will then send a variation to be signed by the remaining partner.

The eligibility test ensures that the individual medical practitioner is a qualifying general medical practitioner and able to enter into a contract (without disqualification, being bankrupt etc.) as per the GMS regulations.

It is essential that the correct procedure is followed and the notices drafted correctly otherwise there is a risk the GMS contract could be terminated. We can assist you with the procedure and drafting of these notices if required.

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About the Author
Patricia MacKenzie, Senior Associate Solicitor
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