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04th July 2013

Sink or Swim

A practice has resorted to hand-delivering letters rather than paying for stamps, as funding pressures bear down on GPs” - Pulse 1st July 2013.  A GP told Pulse Magazine how a receptionist puts the envelopes through patients’ doors while she takes her dog for a walk.  Apparently, this is because each patient on the chronic disease register was requiring three appointments on average and each one with a separate invitation.

Another tip was to invite patients for their annual review in the month of their birth and to set up an automatic invitation for this added onto the monthly script request.  With medical practices beginning to come under financial pressure and some even reported as having to make staff redundant, many GPs are feeling the downside of a commercial world.  Many GPs are not happy at having to look at `variable expenses` and `profit margins`.  Is this what all that training and dedication was leading too?  So, I would just ask what else one can do to relieve this pressure without being too tongue-in-cheek.

Trying to make savings is a psychologically difficult process because it highlights being in a place of lack, but it is the first direction small businesses tend to look.  So, as well as hand-delivering letters, how about saving scrap paper for making notes or counting paperclips?  There are actually some more pro-active ways of making savings.  Most practices have a large `consumables` budget and shopping around for suppliers can always make a difference.  Bulk-buying gives you leverage and buying power too, so forming a buying cooperative with other practices and asking suppliers to tender for the contract might help.

On the other hand, most people forget that income generation works better than cost savings.  Look at charges for non-NHS services and review prices.  What do you charge for insurance reports, holiday insurance claims or DWP certification?  Do you charge for medical reports for local authorities in connection with adoption and fostering, or even cremation forms?  The BMA list of fees is a guideline only and can be adjusted to suit circumstances and the area in which you practice.

All this is now part and parcel of the `business` of medicine.  It is a side of practice in which some people flourish and some people drown.  If you are drowning, call the BMA Doctor Advisor Service on 08459 200 169

Topics: GPs

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