The process of dealing with the resignation or retirement of a GP can be quite complex and far reaching. This guide attempts to cover as much ground as possible.
A. Resignation, Retirement or Death in Service
The starting point is a Notice of Resignation or Retirement. The Partnership Agreement should allow for a notice period which would normally be ‘3 months’. Notice should be in writing and addressed to the senior or remaining partners. Where a partner has died in service, the Practice will need to see and have a copy of the death certificate.
The Practice will need to consider ‘succession’ arrangements. Does the Practice wish to replace the outgoing doctor and if so, with whom – a doctor (partner or salaried) or a nurse practitioner? If not, can the remaining doctors cope with the list size and the workload?
NOTICE – Checked and completed by (name):
B. NHS Pension – Superannuation
The partner who is leaving the Practice to work elsewhere will need to inform Primary Care Support, England of his or her change in circumstances so that pension records can be updated. The Practice may need to provide support to a retiring partner, whether on age or ill health grounds who wishes to apply for a pension award using the appropriate AWARD AW8 form. Similarly, the widow or widower of a deceased partner will need help applying for pension benefits. The NHS Business Services Authority is the body responsible for dealing with pension awards: www.nhsba.nhs.uk. A Retirement Pensions Guide is available on this site.
PENSION – Checked and completed by (name):
C. Partnership Shares
The remaining partners will need to update their ‘partnership’ shares and complete a form for submission to Primary Care Support England: www.pcse.england.nhs.uk. The PCSE organisation is responsible for recording new partnership shares. It is imperative that the pension aspects are dealt with promptly in order to avoid incorrect and confusing deductions being made from income in future quarters. Adjustments can take many months to correct.
SHARES – Checked and completed by (name):
D. Banking Arrangements
The Practice will need to review its banking arrangements by changing the name of accounts and removing the ‘retiring’ partner from the signatories to the accounts, if all of the partners are usually named. Making changes where a doctor has died may be problematic, as the Practice will need to deal with the Executors of the Deceased’s Estate. Changes would include de-authorising the authority to make payments and alter standing orders and direct debits online.
BANK ACCOUNTS – Checked and completed by (name): Date:
E. Information technology – Security
The Practice will need to inform their local IT Registration Authority that the outgoing doctor’s NHS Smart Card and NHS email address should no longer be attributed to the Practice. Passwords for access to Practice IT systems should be withdrawn. Arrangements may also need to be made to continue access to an outgoing doctor’s email address if the doctor has died and might have been dealing with important practice business. Alternatively, it is vital that regular contacts are asked to redirect emails to a newly nominated member of the practice.
PASSWORD WITHDRAWAL – Checked and completed by (name): Date:
F. Premises Ownership
The outgoing partner may elect to continue to be an owner of any surgery property. This could be problematic and require separate financial accounting. Otherwise a financial settlement about transferring ownership to the remaining partners may need to be reached. The Practice accountants and practices solicitor may need to have some input. As with banking arrangements, the remaining partners may have to deal with the Executor of a Deceased Partner’s Estate to settle any premises ownership issues.
OWNERSHIP – Checked and completed by (name): Date:
G. Drawings and Salary
Normally, partners’ drawings are reviewed when the annual accounts are finalised. It may, however, be necessary to adjust the drawings of the remaining partners until such time as a replacement is taken on board. Clearly a salaried partner would need to be removed from the payroll and a P45 issued. The practice accountant might offer advice on the level of future drawings and the affordability of a replacement.
DRAWINGS REVIEW – Checked and completed by (Name): Date:
H. Practice Accountants
The Practice will need to inform the practice accountants of the change in circumstances as the annual accounts will need to reflect the partner leaving. The ‘leaving’ partner’s Capital Account will need to be closed and any drawings owed paid over. Where a partner has died, the Practice Accountants may need to liaise with the Executor of the Deceased Partner’s Estate.
ACCOUNTANT- Checked and completed by (Name): Date:
I. Care Quality Commission
The Practice will need to inform the Care Quality Commission of any partnership changes, particularly if the ‘leaving doctor’ is the registered manager. It is known that such notifications can take some time to hit home.
CQC REGISTRATION- Checked and completed by (Name): Date:
J. Other NHS Notifications
Included in your list of organisations to inform of the partner leaving should be the Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS England’s Area Team. Practices might also consider telling local hospitals and community nursing managers of their changes in personnel. The list should include the Primary Care Network, the local authority Social Services and any local Alliance or Federation.
NOTIFICATIONS – Checked and completed by (Name): Date:
K. Commercial Agreements and Leases
The Practice may also need to inform the parties to any agreement of the change in membership of the partnership. This might include lease agreements for equipment, such as telephone systems and a photocopier or franking machine.
AGREEMENTS AND LEASES – Checked and completed by (Name): Date:
L. Usual or Named doctor
If patients have been allocated a ‘named doctor’, arrangements should be made to make a ‘bulk transfer’ to another member or members of the partnership.
PATIENT BULK TRANSFER Checked and completed by (Name): Date:
M. Lead Responsibility
The Practice may need to consider appointing another doctor or person to any roles or responsibilities carried out by the ‘leaving’ doctor.
LEAD RESPONSIBILITIES – Checked and completed by (Name): Date:
N. Deceased Doctor
The widow, widower or solicitor of the Estate of the Deceased may need to be reminded to notify the General Medical Council, the Defence organisation and the British Medical Association (where appropriate) of the death of the doctor.
DECEASED DOCTOR- Checked and completed by (Name): Date:
O. Notifying Patients
Last but not least, there is the question of informing patients that a doctor is leaving or has died and possibly providing an indication of what steps are being taken to find a replacement. In the past, doctors had personal lists of patients and a letter would be sent to each individual notifying them of the change of doctor. Nowadays, it might be sufficient to post a notice in the waiting room and to add a news item to the Practice’s website. The NHS Choices website should also be amended. The Primary Care Network and Clinical Commissioning Group May also have Web Sites that will require amendment.
NOTIFYING PATIENTS- Checked and completed by (Name): Date:
A new and updated version will be published on the Practice Index Web Site.
Robert Campbell – Original December 2017, Revised June 2021