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Five quick tips to survive the funding squeeze

Accountant Sue Beaton offers a quick-fire checklist to help practices survive the disappointing pay review

Plan for changes in funding

It is essential to understand what income is staying, what is going and what is changing from 1 April. QOF changes in particular could impact heavily. It will be very hard to budget for the future without knowing what income the practice will receive and whether additional or alternative sources of income need to be considered. Don’t leave it too late.

Ensure your financial reporting is reliable

Financial information should be regularly reviewed in order to spot anomalies, incorrect coding, missed targets, missed internally generated invoices and to ensure cash collection. This extends to all areas of income, both contract-based and private.  Ensure that all work is evaluated for cost effectiveness. Do not be afraid to drop a service if it is not profitable.

Minimise distractions

It imperative that the partners act as a strong team and work together for the good of the practice. Additional posts held outside the practice are fine but should complement, not compete with a partner’s role and function at the practice. Partners should take an active role in practice management and have a plan for how they want the practice to develop, without personal interests, if conflicting, taking priority. Without strong, engaged, pro-active leadership and a genuine desire to succeed and do well, incomes are likely to dwindle.

Consider working with other practices

Working with other practices could bring savings in expenditure or provide opportunities for securing new income. Practices can work together in various ways, ranging from small, relatively informal arrangements to merging or setting up federations. The latter requires detailed research and expert advice but careful planning now could bring positive results.

Review your personal options - but not at the expense of the surgery

Without undermining the development of the practice, consider your own position. Is it possible or desirable to develop new skills or brush up on existing ones to enhance practice income? Away from the practice, could you seek out of hours work, consultancy fees, writing roles or is 24-hour retirement an option?

Sue Beaton is a partner at Coveney Nicholls, a firm of specialist medical accountants

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