Medical Professionals

Is £146 per patient sustainable in the NHS General Practice (GP)

Chris Street

6th January 2018

By Simon Misiewicz

Article relevant to the tax year 2017/18

Are you unsure how to increase the profitability of your Practice, and don’t know which way to turn for help?

I was reviewing some of the key elements that many of my GP, doctor and medical investment clients state as being risk factors for them and their investment portfolios as we begin a new year, and one of the common elements my clients cite as a key item is achieving a balance between effective patient healthcare whilst remaining profitable as a business.

I spend much of my time when providing financial advice for doctors, GPs, locums and dentists reviewing the running of their Practices as a business, and providing bespoke tax planning tips as a result.

Our team of medical professional accountants are focused on creating greater revenues for your medical professional business such as GPs, locums and dentists, whilst being tax-efficient.

£146 per year per patient. Is this sustainable?

Every month, most of my medical client’s Practices conduct thousands of face-to-face consultations, including home visits, telephone calls, and associated administrative tasks such as letters, referrals and patient results. This is all completed on a budget of £146 per patient per year.

As many of my medical clients inform me, most patients attend a Practice around six times per year, but some patients can attend in excess of 30 times per year, depending on their health conditions.

This makes it incredibly difficult to maintain running a Practice as a profitable business, and when adding in the additional factor of a huge shortage of GPs in the UK at the moment, the burdens increase hugely.

A medical career is very stressful, dealing with a multiple of ill patients, often with very complex situations, and on a limited time and financial budget.

Most of my GP clients only get 10 minutes per patient due to the huge demands on them, and it’s been reported that GPs have seen an 11% drop in income since 2008, whilst 80% of GPs in the UK feel that their workload is excessive.

Less than 10% of NHS spending goes towards General Practices, so it’s also significantly underfunded.

The lack of GPs results in existing doctors and locums struggling with more work and patient appointments than ever before. This means that there are also associated issues with booking appointments, increases in time-consuming patient complaints, and GP clients of mine finding themselves spending more time fire-fighting rather than delivering their professional medical expertise.

This also usually means that many Practices are not being run efficiently, and with a financial profit.

Despite the NHS retention scheme, which we previously wrote about in another article, I can see why the above pressures with decreasing revenues has resulted in many GPs looking for alternatives sources of income and to provide better patient care.

Book your wealth planning session. Let’s address your finance/tax issues and build family wealth that is sustainable for your future generations. 

By now you would have noticed that the number of tax changes means that you need to plan for the future to ensure that you keep more of what you earn.

Property investors: How does Section 24 (mortgage interest relief) affect you? How are your properties going to perform once Section 24 (mortgage interest relief) comes into full effect?

Doctors/Dentists: Have you incorporated your private practice work into a limited company? Have you structured it to ensure that you and your family takes advantage of the tax breaks?

Stephen Covey said that “people climb to the top of the ladder, only to find out that it is set against the wrong wall”.

Many people go about their business and at the end of the year they feel that they have not moved forwards.

The finance, tax and wealth sessions have been designed to review your financial and tax plans for the next five years by reviewing your income streams, lifestyle costs, investment returns, legacy and estate planning needs.

Learn more about my Finance, Wealth and Tax Planning service – Click Here. 

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Make improvements to enhance patient care and efficiency of your GP

The majority of my GP investment clients are now forced to release their appointments on the same day, in an attempt to save time and money. This reduces the rate of no-shows on patient appointments, and GPs can focus on patients who are very unwell.

Educating patients about the stresses a Practice is under can also assist in maintaining better relationships with patients, as well as increasing the profitability of the Practice as a business. Ask your patients to:

  • Understand the pressures the Practice is under
  • To use the medical services responsibly
  • Inform the Practice if an appointment cannot be kept
  • Do not book in for multiple problems – a GP only has 10 minutes
  • To consider writing or emailing the local MP asking for more financial support for the Practice

Passing on these simple but effective items of information to patients will make a significant difference in the patient-Practice relationships, and could also go a long way to increasing profitability this year.

Other useful background reading can be found in the articles I’ve written below, including:

Are doctors  & GPs making enough money?

Setting up a tax-efficient business for GPs

Wealth planning for medical professionals

To learn more about our accountancy and tax services that will help you make more money and pay less tax in your medical profession, please book a time with us at a time that is convenient for you.

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