Commercial considerations - planning and adaptation for practices
Taking a closer look at some of the issues GPs are facing, and how we can help.
The ever changing world of primary care provides many areas for potential dispute, either with third parties or sadly within your own partnerships. Think about some of the following common problems which can have a significant impact on practice and post-practice life.
As the stress of modern practice increases, in these unprecedented times we have seen an increased need for advice around partnership governance. The traditional business model remains the partnership but business is becoming ever more sophisticated to meet the challenges of service delivery.
Without any agreement, the practice operates as a partnership at will with little ability to operate outside of a statutory provision which pre-dates modern medical practice and is unlikely to provide a working practice that suits. As such, the potential for dispute between partners is significant and you may find it difficult to achieve a result that suits anyone in the absence of clearly agreed and documented terms. Whilst it can often appear to be a daunting prospect the time spent in agreeing and negotiating a partnership agreement with your partners is likely to save time and minimise the risk of a partnership dispute, and the threat to the partnership contract.
Did you also know that many practices fail to keep both the landlords, and in cases of freehold properties, their mortgagees informed of parties who may be making use of their premises? As primary care providers are encouraged to work more collaboratively in keeping with the Government’s working at scale agenda, third party usage has increased in recent times and in particular in the case of delivering COVID-19 hot hubs. It has never been more important to understand your property obligations. Failure to follow proper process to ensure you have all the consents that you need to be able to work with other providers, may land you in hot water.
Your landlord or lender almost certainly needs to consent to most forms of third party usage. Partnership and network agreements are unlikely to deal with this, and breaches of lease or mortgage agreements can have very serious consequences including in the worst case scenarios losing your right to continue to occupy.
A classic problem for practitioners in their premises is not understanding the nature of their interest. Partners who are named on a lease as a tenant need to ensure that, if they leave the partnership, their property interest is properly dealt with; reference in a partnership deed is unlikely to be enough.
Many a retirement can be blighted by the receipt of a bill from a landlord in respect of the surgery who chooses to pursue you because you are still named as a tenant. Unless the parties to a lease deal with the transfer of an interest on your departure, you are almost certainly still a tenant. Whilst this is seldom a problem where the interest is a freehold, as the likelihood is that there is some capital value to come back to you when you are bought out, leasehold transfers tend to be forgotten. As part of any retirement you should ensure that all steps are taken to remove you from the ownership of the interest
We understand that with the current unprecedented circumstances, you may be faced with unexpected and new issues. The specialist GP team at Weightmans LLP are here to help and, where you do not already have legal representation, we are delighted to be able to offer you up to 15 minutes free legal advice in relation to some of your commercial concerns. If you would like to speak to one of our experts, please provide details and a convenient time to call you on the form below.
We understand that with the current unprecedented circumstances, you may be faced with unexpected and new issues. The specialist GP team at Weightmans are here to help and, where you do not already have legal representation, we are delighted to be able to offer you up to 15 minutes free legal advice in relation to some of your commercial concerns. If you would like to request a call back from our team of experts, or find out more about this bespoke service we are offering, read more about our GP Advice Line.