At the January General Meeting of members we all agreed that we would offer actively to support any options that the City’s Collaboration Working Group developed, based on their engagement with every practice in the city.

The options that are currently being voted on are

  • carrying on in informal arrangement,
  • setting up a strategic umbrella federation that may contract BICS for some functions and
  • BICS to become the Strategic Umbrella organisation.

It’s critical that we collectively consider what are we trying to achieve together, what are our needs as well as what are the long term implications of choosing any of these options.

At a time when primary care, and the rest of the health and social care system is facing unprecedented challenges, it is even more important that we pull together, build on what we have, and bring our provider colleagues from Sussex Community Trust, Social Care, Sussex Partnership, the third sector, and BSUH into a new model of delivery that focuses on meeting the needs of our populations.

Our only agenda is to deliver what matters to those that we serve. We will only make it harder for ourselves with splits and divisions; these just cost time, effort and money that none of us can afford. Division in primary care will weaken us all and will prevent us from doing good work together; it will weaken our ability to secure the resources primary care desperately needs to make a difference in peoples’ lives.

We promised to support any option that Practices in the city wanted to implement, and we will.

BICS is your organisation, for you to shape, to work with, in whatever way makes sense and is useful to you. Our time and resources are free of charge to you as members, as they have always been. Our trading history, balance sheet and contracting and tendering experience is available to you to use in service to your collaboration aims. The governance structures you can shape to your needs to give you the autonomy and freedom that you want. You can use the relationship we have built with our provider partners and so much more.

When considering these options, there is a temptation to get pulled into polarised black and white positions. We don’t think this is helpful, and may be an unintended consequence of those who are keen to get on with collaboration in practice. We think there are solutions that prevent further polarisation and that deliver what everybody wants. This involves us now talking directly to each other and working though the issues we uncover.

Some Practices are already asking for our help in collaborating beyond Proactive Care and our existing services. We are going to work with these colleagues in the next month to develop some options of how we can best use the existing BICS infrastructure and legal structures, and will share these options with the Collaboration Working Group.

These may involve changing our legal structures and/or our governance arrangements; we don’t know whether it will yet, and it really depends on what practices want to collaborate around. Our members have told us that they are up for changing the way we are structured, and that is what we will do if we need to. In readiness of this we have put in place General Meetings in May/June so we can discuss any changes. We have already appointed a legal team to help us, national experts in general practice federating. There is no cost to our members, as these costs are absorbed into our existing business costs.

If you have any questions about any of the Collaboration Working Group’s options, their implications, how they might be implemented, or the consequences of particular options – then please contact Lindsay Coleman or Peter Devlin.

Image by Flickr user Juhan Sonin via a CC Licence


tagged in membership, Primary Care Collaboration, The Board

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