Some factors which affect your ability to attract new partners and are outside of your control, such as locality; housing; access to good schools; public transport etc, but there are many things you can control. Prospective new partners will always undertake some form of assessment of your practice, and you can take steps to help ensure your partnership stands out from the crowd.
Prospective partners will want to be sure that they’re joining a well managed and financially viable partnership. You can evidence this early in negotiations by providing a ‘due diligence pack’ including:
- Partnership Agreement. Ensure your partnership agreement is up to date and fit for purpose (our free checklist will help you);
- Property documents. If the premises are freehold and owned by some or all of the partners, include the Title documents and the agreement by which the partnership can occupy the premises (this may be in the Partnership Deed or a separate licence or Declaration of Trust). Also, check the Title documents are not still in the names of retired/bought out former-partners. If you are a tenant in leasehold premises, include a copy of the lease and check that it has been properly assigned and that you are compliant with it. Document any issues.
- Contracts: Include a copy of your GMS/PMS contract as well as any another key sources of practice income such as public health or network contracts
- Partnership accounts for the last 3 years. Include an explanation of key movements
- Disputes and contingent liabilities: Prepare a list of known potential liabilities, such as service charge disputes with your landlord, employee disputes, patient complaints etc, and explain what you are doing to mitigate them. Every practice has a few ‘issues’ and it is much better to be upfront about these rather than pretending they don’t exist and risk a partnership dispute later.
- Regulatory Reports. Include the latest CQC report as well as any relevant correspondence from NHSE or indeed the GMC
Just make sure that your prospective recruit has signed up to your confidentiality agreement before you provide him or her with the due diligence pack!
Many new GP partners are reluctant to invest significant capital when they are already saddled with student debt, mortgages and other financial commitments. Having a realistic expectation as to what they can afford to invest into the business is important. If you oblige new partners to buy into the surgery or commit large sums of working capital on or near admission, you will inevitably put some good candidates off.
It is often a good idea to invite a potential partner to talk through the Partnership accounts with your accountant. The accountant can produce forecasts of their likely future income which will also help to build their confidence in you.
In the end, most partners join a new practice because they feel there is a ‘good fit’. Due diligence and other checks are really just ways to confirm a preliminary decision that has already been made based on gut instinct. Many people regard this as outside of their control, but it can be managed. The trick is to have a clear culture in the practice and ensure everyone subscribes to it. Could you succinctly describe the culture in your practice? Would the receptionist describe it in the same way? Would the patients also recognise it? Think about promoting your own ‘vision & culture’ statement. Articulating the culture you are aiming to achieve will help the business deliver it. The culture will be different for each practice and it can be supported by policies. Importantly it should apply from the most junior employees to the most senior of partners, but if everyone clearly works towards the same culture there is a much greater chance that you will attract someone else who ‘fits’.
Being prepared before you start the recruitment process can save you many hours of valuable management time when speaking with potential new partners, as well as putting your practice in a strong position to attract the best available candidates. We can provide assistance in assessing the health of your business documents, and a strategy to mitigate any potential problem areas so please do get in touch with one of our experts.
Remember that you need to ‘sell’ the practice just as much as potential new recruits need to sell themselves.
For further information on partnership matters, please contact Daphne Robertson, firstname.lastname@example.org and for information relating to your premises, please contact Bethan Dodd, email@example.com