Things a GP federation could be doing

Howbeck Healthcare was setup in 2014 to work with GP practices wanting to work at scale and has successfully now helped to setup five Federations. We now work with all of them and others, finding and employing staff for them, writing bids (successfully winning over £4m in new work), managing projects and providing strategic and operational ongoing support and advice.

We also work with providers, especially IT companies, wanting to work with GP Federations and in the primary care space.  We have commissioned products; given advice on adapting existing products, have helped find beta testers, developed case studies, and helped find innovation monies to spend on innovative products from new suppliers.

We had feedback from some GP Federations that we spoke to, that once setup they struggle to know what to do or that they get stuck doing one type of thing and run out of ideas.  We therefore ran a very successful, well attended conference earlier in the year, (you may have seen my marketing on LinkedIn!) that showcased some of the projects that we have worked on and some of the partners we have worked with. The idea being to share this knowledge to the mutual benefit of all.

Below is the first in a series of articles summarising the best of these ideas. The aim is to give Practices and GP Federations a menu of ideas.  Some you will have done, perhaps better than us – in which case let us know!  Some will be new to you and you might want to borrow the idea, or work with us to deliver it.  We are interested in hearing what you have done as we don’t pretend to know it all!  We are also hoping to replicate the conference later in the year elsewhere in the country and are seeking interesting speakers – at the last conference the invited speakers were the highlight for me and received great feedback!

We are happy to speak, advise and network – feel free to get in touch.

Idea 1: Cut your electricity costs.

Finding ways of reducing practices’ expenses is often one of the main aims of a GP Federation. Buying groups exist often for buying flu jabs at scale and some medical supplies companies offer to beat any deal on things like couch rolls and gloves/syringes. Utilities are an area where significant savings can be made and even better it’s a task the GPs can delegate to the managers.

We have run 2 projects that have been successful and are worth sharing.

1 Reduce the amount of electricity you use by speaking to Luceco about energy saving lights and technologies.

Luceco are a company we have worked with; they were one of our conference sponsors.  They operate in many areas including health.  They work with hospitals and have some big clients but they are also keen to help primary care.  We ran a project where they offered a free survey of properties and suggested energy saving changes.  For my surgery – moving to LED panels from Fluorescent ones and installing some auto switching off light detectors were the main changes. They originally quoted us for the whole building but we decided to go with the most used areas to maximise the ROI. They have access to a range of funding options for the capital investment but we achieved this locally with some help from a bid that we put in and won. (Howbeck can help you with this).  We have already seen a large cut in our electricity bills and the ROI looks like 18 months which is excellent.

The contact at Luceco is Richard Horton; email him at to discuss. We aren’t on commission – but as stated Howbeck Healthcare can help you put a bid together for funding if you want to try that route.

2 Get cheaper electricity by using the right broker.

Not all brokers are the same and buying in bulk can help! When asked, a lot of practice managers have been to a broker and enquired about cheaper utilities.  What we learnt was that not all brokers are the same.  Some get better deals than others.  You also get a bigger deal if you gang up and offer to all switch to the same supplier – they can usually cope with different contract end dates and staggered switch overs so this isn’t a problem.

This is something you could do in your own Federation, but feel free to contact us to ask who we used or if you want us to project manage it for you. We are currently trying to arrange one central contract that might be big enough to get almost wholesale rates and if more want to join in – great!

Do you want more?

If you like this article and want to see more please like or comment! We have a long list of other projects to tell you about!