Falling profits prompt rise in GP cosmetic work
By Nigel Praities
GPs are increasingly turning to private work to make up for lost NHS income, with a growth in the number of practices offering profitable procedures such as botox injections, Pulse can reveal.
Medical accountants say practices have been increasingly diversifying their income after falls in profits from NHS work and the failure of promised local enhanced services to materialise.
Figures from practice accounts show the proportion of total income from private work has risen by about a quarter in the past year, from around 8.5% to around 10%.
The rise is partly a result of NHS income decreasing but GPs are also boosting their income by providing private medical services, including travel vaccinations and botox clinics.
The figures were provided to Pulse by Bob Senior, vice chair of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants and director of medical services at accountancy firm Tenon.
He said: ‘GPs are seeing declining NHS income, so they are keen to avoid that and are rolling up their sleeves. Some PCTs have not been generous with enhanced services and GPs are having to look hard at the services they are offering.'
Mr Douglas McGeorge, a consultant plastic surgeon at the Grosvenor Nuffield Hospital and past president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said greater numbers of GPs were becoming involved in giving patients private cosmetic treatments.
'There is no doubt numbers are increasing, but I would advise that GPs make sure they are properly qualified to give the best advice to patients. Just because you can give botox, doesn't mean that you should.'
Ian Tongue, a partner at Sandison Easson and Co, said practices were finding their NHS income ‘pretty static'.
‘Some GPs are looking at aesthetics work, such as botox or fillers, and people still need travel vaccinations even in a credit crunch,' he said.
Mr Tongue also said practices were looking at publicising their private work more widely to increase income.
Dr Eric Rose, former chair of the GPC practice finance subcommittee, said: ‘Private income was pretty important before the 2004 contract, but had faded to the background a bit in the last few years, but it is now becoming much more important.'
‘People might have said in the past that they couldn't be bothered because they had enough NHS income, but now they are willing to grab it.'The number of practicies offering botox injections has increased The number of practicies offering botox injections has increased