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How to ensure all invoices are paid

General practice, like any business, has to have robust processes to ensure that invoices are paid in a timely manner

General practice, like any business, has to have robust processes to ensure that invoices are paid in a timely manner

General Practice, like any other commercial operation, has to have robust processes in place to ensure that invoices for services rendered are paid in a timely manner.

Strict credit control is even more paramount when other forms of income, such as NHS budgets, are squeezed.

A credit control system needs:

1. A clearly publicised list of fees for the services not available under the NHS. These tend to be those suggested by the BMA. Ensure that receptionists booking in people for such services inform the client of the fees prior to booking.

2. Devolution of responsibility to one, or preferably two (to cover absences), members of staff with suitable training

3. An overview of the system with quarterly reviews by a partner

4. An off the shelf or bespoke software programme - often a simple EXEL programme will do as long as it incorporates the following:

Customer name

Date of service

Type of service


Vat or not

Date of invoice

Date paid

5. An agreement of the period for extended credit. This is usually 30, 42 or 60 days. The database needs to be interrogated monthly for defaulting clients.

6. A pro forma letter that can be despatched in a timely manner to defaulting clients. These can be graded depending on the length of default, culminating with the threat of legal action.

7. A separate cash box/account for the paid fees, which can be used to tally amounts against those within the accounts.

8. A separate heading for private income in the annual practice accounts. This should include a section for credit outstanding at the end of each financial year.

A minor modification to the above process would also suffice in ensuring that our major customer, the NHS, meets invoices submitted for services rendered to it!

Dr Jim Sherifi is a GP in Sudbury, Suffolk


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