GP partnership disputes: how to settle them without major surgery
Nigel Beckwith, 11th March, 2013
It’s becoming even more common these days for disputes to crop up between GP partners, and when they do they can wreak havoc.
Not only do they cause stress, anger and conflict between the partners in question, they can lead to the breakup of the practice and even threaten the PCT contract.
Providing the right steps are taken, these disagreements can be avoided. Sometimes, though, disagreements are inevitable, but there are a number of things that partners can do to lessen the impact.
It’s worth thinking about potential events that can trigger a partnership dispute, these being:
- Partner misconduct
- Compulsory retirement
- Underperforming partners
- Practice/private income
- Profit share
- Partners who leave
First off, partners need to make sure they have a valid, well drafted Partnership Agreement.
They can include key provisions that can minimise the likelihood of a dispute and make sure disagreements are resolved quickly and cheaply.
Without this, the practice and its PCT contract will be at risk.
It’s also very important to keep records, particularly in events leading up to the dismissal or compulsory retirement of a partner.
These records can be accurate minutes for partner meetings and discussions between partners that lead to the issuing of a ‘warning notice’.
If this notice is given, it’s vital to carefully follow the procedure outlined in the Partnership Agreement to avoid a claim of wrongful expulsion.
In cases where it’s necessary to dismiss a partner or if a more general dispute breaks out, the practice manager should seek expert advice from a solicitor who specialises in Partnership Law.
Trying to resolve the situation without specialist legal advice will just make matters worse.
Or, if partners want to avoid the stress and expense of court proceedings, they can settle the dispute through mediation.
In recent years, mediation has had an extremely high success rate and can help to repair relationships between GP partners.
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