The world of general practice continues to change and we have, for some time now, been moving away from the traditional models of general practice. Collaborative working and mergers are increasingly common and almost the norm nowadays, so does that mean the PM needs more input; is being a PM partner the answer?
In 2013, following a survey of 600 practice managers, it was identified that a little over four per cent of practice managers were partners in their practices (MDDUS, 2014). It is not uncommon for practice managers in larger practices to be offered partnerships.
Is there a risk associated with the role of PM partner? Well, like everything in life, there are risks and you can mitigate most of these. But ultimately the choice is yours; do you want to be a PM partner or stay as PM?
There are many advantages and disadvantages to becoming a PM partner. We’ll cover a few of these in no particular order. Let’s start with finance. As a partner, you can benefit from the profits of your practice just like the GP partners do, but what happens if the predicted practice income is not as expected? The effect is a reduction in the share of profits. In addition, partners are liable for any losses as all partners are responsible for the debts of the business.
Longevity is another advantage: “Alliances and partnerships produce stability when they reflect realities and interests” (Stephen Kinzer). As a partner, you’ll have the role of partner for as long as you want it! That is, of course, unless you make so many errors or poor decisions that the other partners deem you unsuitable as a partner and take action to remove you.
Conversely, do well and you have a real opportunity to develop the practice and ensure the strategic aims of the practice are met, income streams are maximised, whilst expenditure is minimised. This can give you a real sense of achievement, continuity and job satisfaction.
Business management is also a key consideration. As PM you oversee the day-to-day functioning of the practice, but as a PM partner, you would have a real say in how the business is actually run.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” (Helen Keller). The following exemplifies that quote. Let’s say you’ve been pushing to have an area refurbished to improve the practice, but so far the partners have met your ideas with resistance. If you were a partner, you’d have more authority to voice the reasons why the investment is necessary; after all, as a partner you are an equal.
Another aspect of business management is that as a PM partner, you could focus on the overall running of the business while the clinicians can concentrate on the delivery of safe, effective, patient-centric care!
What is essential is that the partnership agreement is updated to reflect the inclusion of the non-clinical partner. Specialist advice from a solicitor or contract law specialist is crucial to ensure that all parties are adequately protected, and there are many areas that require discussion. Use a checklist to help you through the process, such as the New Partnership Checklist [PLUS]. Failure to have a written agreement in place may mean your ‘agreement’ falls under the ‘partnership at will’ element of the 1890 Partnership Act. This act poses a number of risks which all parties will want to avoid! Have a look at the BMA’s further information to ensure your partnership is protected!
Weighing up the options will take time and you’ll need to seek specialist advice to ensure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision. Maybe you see it as an ideal opportunity; maybe you’re sceptical and decide it’s not for you. Only you can decide – it’s your choice.
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