In the last few weeks, I have had two meetings with clients in which problems were raised around partner relationships, both on the issue of part-time partners and workload.
Now, I would like to say that, in my experience, when partners start to look at what each other is doing, rather than on the business in hand, it will be the practice itself that suffers, so these issues need to be dealt with quickly. They can easily fester into something more dramatic.
If you are a full-time partner, you do the work you have to do, that is straightforward. But if you are part-time, it is more complicated. Sure, you can apportion the sessions you work on the agreed ratio of full time to part time, but what about non-clinical work?
Would a half-time partner, for instance, expect to only go to half the number of practice meetings? Or only contribute half the effort due to meet the QOF targets, or appraise half the number of staff? In practice, most part-time partners tell me that going to half-time has reduced their overall workload, but they are working considerably more than half-time, and resentment can fester.
In the first meeting I attended, the newly reduced partner was complaining that she was having to do as much admin as before and I suggested she be given an extra session for the division of profits for her admin, which seemed to be satisfactory to all.
The second client meeting was not so straightforward. The partner reducing to part-time was still clearly the driving force in the practice and still having to deal with pretty much all the issues as before. This practice had appointed a salaried GP to cover the clinical sessions given up by this GP and I suggested that, rather than reduce the profit-sharing ratios for this partner, he remain on a full share of profits, but the cost of the salaried GP be deducted from his profit share.
This seemed to fit well, as the only work the GP had given up was his clinical sessions. And while the average partner is still earning around £15,000 per session (after excluding employers’ superannuation) and the salaried GP’s sessions cost around £11,000 (after on-costs) the GP reducing his sessions was better off financially that he thought.
- Laurence Slavin is a partner with Ramsay Brown and Partners Chartered Accountants who specialise in the finances of GPs.