GP practices are required to deal with continual change in how they provide services and to comply with frequently changing regulatory requirements. Many GP practices are now seeking to form larger groups providing a broader range of services in line with current Government thinking.
Employees often find periods of change unsettling. As practices merge into larger groups, there is frequently a requirement for restructuring of roles and headcount numbers. Failing to properly consult and inform with employees affected by such a restructure can lead to claims of unfair dismissal and breach of the TUPE regulations governing the transfers of business. In some cases, it can lead to claims of discrimination if employees with protected characteristics are disproportionately affected or suffer less favourable treatment as a consequence of a restructure.
If such a restructure involves a change to working time and shifts to provide longer opening hours or a greater range of services to patients, many employees may resist such change. This can often lead to conflict between staff particularly those on the front line of reception and in practice nursing teams. There may also be a greater need for extended shift working and balancing flexible working time shift rotas.
Practice Managers or Managing Partners need to comply with consultation requirements if changes to contractual arrangements are being proposed and be aware of the extent of change which can be made to employees existing terms of employment. Early dispute resolution is recommended and HR personnel report an increasing rise in low level conflict amongst employees. Such issues can quickly become acrimonious and are frequently time consuming.