Case Study: spinning out of Greenwich Primary Care Collaborative CIC

Fiona Sheil was responsible for co-ordinating NCVO’s programme of seminars, training and advice work on public service commissioning and procurement. Fiona left NCVO in October 2013 but we have retained her blog posts for reference.

The Creation of GPCC CIC

Greenwich Primary Care Collaborative rsm_tenon(GPCC) started its life in a Church Hall on Shooters Hill, South London. The Primary Care Trust had put out a tender for the private sector to compete to provide primary health care services to the people of Woolwich. This brought into sharp focus the need for collaboration. GPs had for too long lived ‘separate lives’, each running their own practice – effectively small businesses. The prospect of the private sector ‘moving into town’ was both a threat and a galvanizing factor.

A few of the senior GPs put a motion to their colleagues. “We want a collaborative not-for-profit organisation to bid for the contract” we said. “And together we can be that organisation”. Amazingly, about 50 GPs came to the front and handed over a cheque to help fund the creation of the company. GPCC was born!

The History

A large number of GPs came forward to work up the bid. We had a strong card to play – we knew the locality, what patients wanted and which service models would work in Woolwich. At first the organisation was incredibly successful. Although we had no track record, the bid developed by our doctors and our business partner was selected against national private sector competition. We won because we demonstrated a local understanding and commitment. The solution was the right one and the absence of a profit motive was most probably a factor too in our selection.

Thereafter things got more tricky. The premises the PCT had found fell through and GPCC was told that if we wanted to proceed, we needed to find our own accommodation, negotiate the legals and secure a lease. As practicing GPs, we were concerned that we lacked the time and business acumen to do this and by now the small fund we had created to support the proposal was dwindling. However, we all felt we had invested a lot of ourselves in the venture and that the people of Woolwich needed our service. It would be wrong to let the idea die after all that had been done. And so with RSM Tenon we agreed a joint partnership – they would work at risk to help us set up the business and only charge GPCC if and when it was successfully trading. RSM Tenon would provide the CEO, Operations Director, Finance Director and other support. The doctors would provide the clinical vision and leadership.

Over a period of a year the new GPCC / RSM Tenon team was able to find superb premises, right opposite the Woolwich Arsenal Train and Bus stations – perfect for patient access. We negotiated a complex 25 year lease with the landlord, sourced a contractor to convert the premises and agreed the contract with the PCT. The contracts were eventually signed just before Christmas 2010.

In 2011 the works started on the conversion: GPs, nurses, a practice manager and receptionists were appointed and an opening date of 29 March 2011 has been set. All is on course for a 12 hour a day, 365 days a year walk-in GP practice. Shareholders are providing services to help design the best models of care, designing the building and even agreeing the colour scheme!

Through RSM Tenon’s work, a capital grant was secured from the NHS Social Enterprise Investment Fund to help finance the project.

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