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Don't miss out on fees you've earned

If your systems are poor you could be failing to collect money owed to you, warns accountant Rosemary Smith

If your systems are poor you could be failing to collect money owed to you, warns accountant Rosemary Smith

As income streams slow it has become more important than ever to ensure you are receiving all the income you are entitled to.

Points to watch

  • Never take it for granted that you will be sent the correct fees.
  • Keep spreadsheets showing not only your GMS/PMS monies but also achievement monies and enhanced services.
  • Do not monitor the amount received from the PCT. Monitor instead the actual income streams and deductions.

If you do not receive information from your PCT, you must demand it. Getting the right data is the only way you can ensure you have been paid correctly each month.

How to set the correct fee

  • Monitor what you charge for insurance reports and other services.
  • Check on the BMA's website and other sites to ensure you are up to date with charges.
  • Be especially careful to include VAT as appropriate if you are registered.

How to make sure all fees are collected

  • Use a computerised package.
  • If you must keep your books manually, keep either a separate book to log all the invoices when they are prepared and the payments received against them, or set up an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Make sure you give your accountant at the year-end the correct figure for monies you have received.
  • If you are unsure about any system above, seek advice from your accountant.

Most computerised packages have fee controls. Although setting them up often takes time, once done it can save a lot of time in preparing statements and copying invoices for reminders.

With manual systems, keeping either a separate book or setting up a spreadsheet is important as you can use the 'data - auto filter' to screen the unpaid items, which will save time.

System for checking collection

  • Ensure there is a specific staff member in charge of credit control.
  • Ensure a regular report is given to the practice manager or partner to monitor.

All too often a system is set up but the amount owed to the practice increases each month because no one actually chases the payments.

Another common mistake is that invoices are often left on the system that should be removed because they were raised in error. Or they are not removed when they have been paid.

If they really remain unpaid they may need to be marked as bad debt.

In all these cases the doctors will be taxed on income they will never receive.

So you could be paying 40% income tax, 1% national insurance and possibly up to 22.5% superannuation (if it is NHS income) for income you have never had.

Rosemary Smith is healthcare manager with Tenon, the UK's third largest medical accountant

Don't miss out on fees you've earned

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