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Partnership agreements for GPs

A well-drafted partnership agreement is essential for your practice. Without a written agreement, your partnership will be a ‘partnership at will’, which can be dissolved by any partner at any time. This could mean the loss of your NHS contract and might lead to a messy dispute, with major financial consequences for the partners personally.

A partnership at will can also arise if a new partner joins the practice without signing a written agreement, so you need to prepare a new agreement – or update your existing one – whenever you take on a new partner. In any case, your partnership agreement should be reviewed regularly, to make sure it still reflects how the partners work together, and is in line with current law.

Preparing the agreement can be complex and time-consuming, so you need to plan carefully and get the right legal advice at an early stage, to identify potential problems and minimise the risk of costly disputes in the future.

We have many years of experience in advising on GP partnership agreements and disputes between GP partners, as part of our wide ranges of services for GPs and other clients throughout the healthcare sector.

Key provisions of the agreement

The agreement should cover all the important aspects of your practice, including:

  • Arrangements regarding the surgery premises
  • Duties of partners
  • Holiday and other leave
  • Income and expenses capital contributions
  • Locum arrangements
  • Management and decision-making
  • Maternity, paternity and similar rights
  • Profit shares and drawings
  • Restrictions on former partners
  • Retirement, suspension or expulsion of partners

Potential problems

If you have no written agreement, or if your agreement is defective, problems can arise, such as:

  • A partner leaves and the other partners have to repay capital contributions, or buy out property shares at short notice
  • Decision-making deadlock arises between the partners
  • Former partners compete with the practice and competition from former partners
  • Issues arise regarding maternity rights
  • Partners fail to perform their weekly sessions
  • Partners refuse to take on their share of administrative duties
  • Several partners retire at the same time, leaving the other partners unable to perform the NHS contract
  • Several partners want to take holiday at the same time
  • The practice may face claims for sexual or other types of discrimination
  • You cannot remove a problematic partner
  • Your partnership becomes a partnership at will

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