GP appointed to lead independent review into GP partnership model

Dr Nigel Watson has been appointed chair of the independent review into the GP partnership model

Dr Watson is a managing partner at the Arnewood Practice in the New Forest. He has over 30 years’ experience as a GP, is chief executive of Wessex Local Medical Committee and is a member of the General Practitioners Committee of the British Medical Association (BMA).

As a former clinical chair of a multi-specialty community provider (MCP), Dr Watson established one of the largest MCPs. It developed several initiatives including:

  • basing musculoskeletal practitioners and fully-funded pharmacists in practices
  • implementing the e-Consult service in more than 80% of Hampshire practices.

Dr Watson stepped down from his role in the MCP to focus on representing GPs through membership of the executive board of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Sustainability and Transformation Partnership and the Dorset Senior Leaders Team.

Dr Watson’s review will look at how the partnership model needs to evolve in the modern NHS.

The Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, the BMA and the Royal College of GPs are working to finalise the terms and conditions of the review.

The review will report back to Health and Care secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS chief executive Simon Stevens.

Jeremy Hunt said: “The GP partnership model has benefitted patients over the years but in an ever-evolving NHS environment we need to consider new ways to reinvigorate the current model.

“Dr Nigel Watson will lead the review and work closely with partners to explore how the partnership model can continue to benefit both GPs and patients.”

Simon Stevens said: “With around a million patient appointments every day, GP practices are the frontline of our health service. The great strength of British general practice has been its diversity and adaptability. So in the year the NHS turns 70, this review will help shape new options for future generations of family doctors.

“That means keeping all that is best about the here and now, while also asking thoughtful questions about how the partnership clinical, business and career model might evolve for the future.”

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Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “The partnership model of general practice has been a trailblazer for innovation in the NHS, which has allowed GPs to create the excellent service our patients value greatly, and it provides value for money to the health service. But increasingly we are finding it more difficult to recruit GP partners, and the College welcomes this independent review of the partnership model and a way of invigorating this as an important model of general practice for the future.

“Dr Nigel Watson is an incredibly experienced GP, with an excellent understanding of the NHS and the challenges it faces. We look forward to working with Nigel constructively to feed into this review, and eagerly anticipate its outcome, in the best interests of general practice, the wider NHS and patient care.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: “The partnership model, in which doctors have a direct and longstanding connection with local communities and are on the shop floor of their own businesses every day seeing and treating people face to face, is the foundation on which the rest of the NHS is built.

“We know that our independent contractor status and GP partnership model are good for doctors, our staff, patients, communities and the wider NHS, but we also know that many practice partnerships are struggling to recruit new GPs as doctors raise increasing concerns about rising workload pressures, premises liabilities and indemnity risks.

“Valuing and building on the partnership model is at the heart of our Saving General Practice report and we are glad the Secretary of State has listened to us and commissioned this review into reinvigorating the model. On the year the NHS turns 70, we look forward to working with Dr Watson and other stakeholders to ensure the core principles behind general practice are preserved for the next seven decades and beyond.”

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