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PMS GPs shun new partners to boost income

PMS GPs are taking on salaried doctors rather than new partners in order to maximise their personal income, according to medical accountants.

The trend has emerged to counter slowing profits in established PMS practices.

Accountants said PMS GPs were increasingly taking home £100,000 a year or more despite expenses rises of up to 17 per cent because hiring a salaried GP meant fewer partners shared the profits.

Bob Senior, director of medical services at accountants BKL Tenon in Eastleigh, Hampshire, said analysis of accounts for the year to March 2003 showed PMS practices' profits were falling by as much as £20,000. 'But per partner profits are increasing by just under 10 per cent to an average of £97,000,' he added.

Valerie Martin, head of medical services at accountants PKF in Guildford, Surrey, said PMS GPs had seen income rise around 2 per cent to £101,000 despite a drop in profits at most practices. 'Practices have certainly worked out the best use of salaried GPs and nurses,' she said. 'On every retirement it's an issue the partners are looking at far harder.'

Rosemary Smith, GP liaison manager at accountants Sandisson Easson in Wilmslow, Cheshire, said GMS and PMS practice profits would come under further pressure next year because of the increase in employers' pension contributions to 14 per cent.

Dr James Kingsland, chair of the GPC's PMS sub-committee, warned the Government may intervene if the trend grew further because PMS incentives were not meant for GPs' personal gain. He said: 'If this practice becomes overt the Department of Health will have to do something.'

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