What is a GP Federation?

A GP Federation is a group of general practices or surgeries forming an organisational entity and working together within the local health economy. The remit of a GP Federation is generally to share responsibility for delivering high quality, patient-focussed services for its communities.

GP Practices Working Together

Across the country, GP Practices are recognising the benefits of working together and are setting up Federations accordingly. For most (including here in Halton), this does not change the responsibilities that each individual GP Practice already has. Instead it provides an additional opportunity to improve services and develop new ones at scale.

The concept of a GP Federation was first set by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in September 2007. Its publication, The RCGP Roadmap, focused on a model where practices would work together more closely to share resources, expertise and services.

Why form a Federation?

The reasons why practices might choose to federate were outlined in a national survey of members of the RCGP carried out in May 2010. These reasons include:

  • To strengthen the capacity of practices to develop new services out of hospital
  • To form an entity that can tender for services offered by a future GP commissioning consortium
  • To make efficiency savings/economies of scale, for example in back office functions or the procurement of practice services
  • To improve local service integration across practices and other providers
  • To enhance the capacity of practices to compete with external private sector companies
  • To strengthen clinical governance and improve the quality and safety of services
  • To develop training and education capacity

Federations in Halton

Here in Halton, the GPs have set up two separate Federations and this website is dedicated to one of them: GP Health Connect Ltd. (The other Federation – Widnes Highfield Ltd – covers the 5 remaining Halton GP practices in Widnes).

Federation Advantages

GP Health Connect Ltd practices came together and decided they wanted to:

  • trust each other to develop a shared vision of the future for primary care in Halton
  • involve patients, CCG, NHSE, Borough Council, local industry and other stakeholders in that vision and helping them to understand how we can work together to deliver the vision
  • honestly admit when we are struggling and feeling comfortable to give and receive help from other Practices
  • work together to support Practices to do their day job really well, for the benefit of the local community
  • share the burden and ensure that no member of a Practice team has an unmanageable workload
  • share best Practice and learning from each other
  • ensure that all patients have access to the same level of care, no matter where they live in the Borough
  • develop new and improving existing services at primary care level to provide sustainable, better value care for patients in the community while maintaining – or better still – improving quality and clinical standards
  • generate income to invest back into improving/developing services for our patients

What Federations are NOT

We are adamant that Federation in Halton is NOT about:

  • redundancies – for either clinicians or non-clinicians in the Practice
  • merging Practices
  • making more profit for GP Partners to just take home
  • judging those Practices whose performance is less than ours
  • each Practice working alone to solve the same issues