MHA | Key tips for succession planning at your GP practice

Key tips for succession planning at your GP practice

Hayley Benn · June 20th 2023 · read

What would happen if one of the Practice GPs decided to emigrate or retire tomorrow, would you have a plan in place?

Or would panic strike. In any business having a strategy in place is key for its successful continuation, and by this I don’t mean just having a quick five-minute chat about it but a fully structured plan.

Whether the Practice is run through a partnership model or a limited company, the partnership agreement or the articles of association will govern the entities decision making process. Therefore this is the starting point to see if there are any restrictions, but do not fret it may be possible to have things altered if needed and all parties are in agreement.

Communication is key in this strategy, knowing what others plans are, well in advance of the actual event will mean that there is plenty of time to prepare. For example by getting a Salaried GP or introducing a new partner.

So how do you plan?

One way of doing this is by using a one-page plan, this will help you focus on where you are right now, where you want the practice to be in say 1,5 or 10 years and how you are going to get there. It is important to work through things in this order, but it may be helpful to have an external facilitator to assist with this, as it can be difficult if parties have different goals and objectives.

What choices do we have?

With the potential retirement of one partner this does not necessarily mean that a new partner should be sort straight away or even at all. There may not be a need to replace like-for-like. Work previously performed by the partners may be able to be dealt with by additional Salaried GPs picking up sessions, recruitment of additional staff into the management team or utilising some of the ARRS roles, the need for a replacement partner may actually be diluted. Thinking differently could help future proof the Practice, whilst assisting in the everyday.

Looking at the current level of GP’s in the UK, there is a worrying trend as the graph shows:-

With fewer new GPs seeking partnership roles, coupled with the general decline in GPs per the above is stressing the partnership model. Exploring all options to protect the business is becoming more and more important

We have seen there is a trend towards working at scale initially into PCNs, but the direction of travel for commissioning is looking to be contracting with larger entities at Place level. Therefore, may this be an opportunity to grow in size by merging with another practice now to be in a better position?

We are not going to explore the complexities and issues of a merger but merely noting here that it is an option to be considered to help gain critical mass and to potentially fulfil the succession planning needs. If you would like to explore this option more, then we would suggest speaking to your MHA local Healthcare team.


Practicalities of someone exiting:

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The three key take aways for successful succession planning are:

  1. Starting those conversation with your fellow partners, discussing where you and your practice are now and where everyone would like to be within a fixed time frame are a necessity.
  2. Draw up a suitable plan with ideal scenarios (new partner, new salaried, new mixture of non-gp staff or potential for merger with local practice).
  3. Reaching out to your local MHA Healthcare team if you need support.
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