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Finance diary, May: Three key mistakes GPs make when filing accounts

In an ideal world, financial records would be updated throughout the year, but they often fall to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list and end up being a big job for many practices at this time of year.

Gathering the information required usually falls to the practice manager, but there are ways that partners can help.

Here are some common mistakes that I come across that require special attention.

1 Inconsistent record-keeping

The most common error is not keeping records of what activity has been done, and what further amounts are due.

For instance, if partners manage a LES or DES, they often need to confirm activity levels to help estimate income or whether the practice is facing a clawback. Make sure any data required by your area team or CCG is submitted promptly to minimise delays in agreeing final activity levels.

The accounts also need to include anything unpaid. Simply being unpaid isn’t a problem, but not knowing how much is due is problematic.

GPs on a PMS contract must give their accountant a copy of last year’s contract as the baseline value may have been changed and additional items may be included. For example seniority may be paid from base funding or separated and, if still in the base contract, it may not be for the correct amount.

2 Miscalculated maternity cover

Maternity cover is often the subject of debate. There can be little clarity in the partnership deed about how to calculate reimbursement: what the partner on maternity owes, and how much is due to the practice. Sometimes the partner on maternity expects a different level of reimbursement from the amount she receives. It is important to clarify the arrangements in time to inform your accountant of any 2013/14 costs.

3 Delayed expenses

Partners often delay sending details of their professional expenses to their accountant, but this will mean over-paying when it comes to the July tax payment. The accountant won’t mind how you send the information – just do it promptly. 

Bob Senior is chair of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants and head of medical services at Baker Tilly