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GPs go forth

Monitor considers tax exemption for private NHS providers

The regulator Monitor is consulting on whether private NHS providers could be made exempt from corporation tax and be allowed to claim back VAT to bring them in line with public hospitals.

Currently public sector hospitals do not pay corporation tax and VAT on supplies, unlike private providers, who some say are disadvantaged under the rules.

As part of a discussion paper on the ‘Fair Playing Field’ review, Monitor said these two costs could prohibit private firms from entering or expanding in the healthcare market.

The discussion paper said: ‘These two issues can both mean that in some circumstances certain provider types are, as a result of their corporate form, subject to additional costs compared to other providers. This may in turn result from them finding the costs of expanding or entering a new market to be prohibitive.’

As part of the review, Monitor asked for responses on whether costs arising from tax differences between NHS, private sector, voluntary and charitable providers have had an impact on decisions from providers about whether to bid for contracts, or provide services covered by AQP.

David Worskett, director of the NHS Partners Network, said that charities and social enterprises were also being disadvantaged: ‘It is important to remember that charities and social enterprises are subject to these tax disadvantages relative to the NHS as well.’

‘So from the point of view of the whole independent sector - not-for profit and for-profit - it would be very welcome if significant disadvantages could be addressed. Only by doing so can commissioners have confidence that they have access to a choice of the best providers in the interests of patients.’

But Dr Marie-Louise Irvine, a BMA Council member and GP in Lewisham, southeast London, said the proposal was ‘appalling’ as the NHS already bears the burden of training costs.

She said: ‘These companies want to siphon off profits from the NHS, which should be spent on patient care and now they’ll be exempt from paying tax. They say it’s not a level playing field, but that’s not the case. The NHS trains all doctor and healthcare workers- who are free to go on to work in the private sector. Training is a big cost that the private sector doesn’t shoulder.’

A DH spokesperson said that private providers must show that their income benefits the NHS.

They said: ‘We have always been clear that any income from private sources must benefit NHS services. This applies to Foundation Trusts and they must publish in their annual reports how money earned in this way has benefitted NHS patients.’

‘We have commissioned Monitor to carry out their Fair Playing Field Review. Once it has been completed and submitted to the department, we will consider how to respond.’

A spokesperson from Monitor said that they asked for contributions on tax in their consultation, but had yet to come to a conclusion.

They said: ‘We will not report to the Secretary of State until March and have not yet decided whether to make any recommendations about tax in the report.’

This story was updated to clarify that Monitor was consulting on tax exemption and to include a link to the discussion paper.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Let common sense prevail

    This is excellent news.
    As a GP I am a private provider to the NHS. I shall look forward to sending my next tax demand back to HMRC with a stick-it attached saying 'no longer has to pay tax', and then I shall book my world cruise.
    I new GP commissioning was the way to go!

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  • They'll steal your pension before they pay you back a penny of tax. And this is just how GPs treat each other..!!!

    "Camidoc pension pot ‘propped up’ GPs’ co-op that went bust" says Islington Tribune

    "A PROBE into the collapse of Islington’s out-of-hours doctors’ co-operative has revealed how its £700,000 pension pot was used to “prop-up” the company before it went bust.

    The Tribune revealed in July 2010 how Camidoc directors used staff contributions to balance its books over three years to plug a shortfall in NHS funding.

    But the vast scale of the “loss” was not known until Monday when the Insolvency Service (IS) announced details of its two-year investigation.

    Dr Mayur Gor, 54, Dr Ivor Robinson, 67, and Camidoc’s former chief executive, Michael Golding, 53, have agreed to an order banning them from acting as directors of a company for a combined 14½ years.

    Mark Bruce, chief examiner at the Insolvency Service, said: “Failure to pay pension contributions into a pension scheme while deducting money from members is a very serious matter and the law rightly treats it as such.”

    He said the IS investigation found that between April 2008 and March 2010 Camidoc Ltd withheld £699,720.65 from the NHS Pension Agency.

    The fund has yet to be recouped and the Department of Work and Pensions, the NHS and the Department of Health are locked in a dispute over who is responsible for it."

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  • I thought matters of taxation were the treasury's reason d'etre, when did monitor assume that role?

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  • Haven't I seen him somewhere before?

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