Practice Income and Expenses

Tackling financial challenges of COVID-19: the key priorities GPs need to consider

LES income

Medical finance expert Graham Leyfield considers the top issues affecting practice finances as a result of coronavirus and how best to tackle them   

GPs have faced a tremendous amount of pressure in the past few months. Among the professions most affected by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, GPs have had to respond rapidly to changing working practices, fluctuating hours, and a demand for even greater patient care.

Add to this the pressure of running a busy practice in uncertain times and it’s easy to see how reviewing personal and practice finances can fall to the bottom of the to-do list.

However, the current crisis can impact finances and knowing how to navigate the new normal is only part of the challenge. Here’s the top three things I have been telling my clients to consider.

1 Putting practice funding first

The past few months will have had an impact on practice revenue, predominately those with private revenue streams. For those affected it means looking ways to support their practice through the crisis.

Extra funding has been promised to help. NHS England has committed to maintaining practice income while surgeries replace routine care with new coronavirus-related support. And funding is available to help with staff absences, as well as helping to cover the costs of providing additional staff for care homes.

In Wales and Scotland, practices have been offered packages of support. The Welsh GMS contract is being relaxed and in Scotland, £15 million of additional funding measure have been provided to help support practices.

But this only covers NHS income, and those with non-NHS income may need to seek help from elsewhere – primarily through the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which enables practices with an annual turnover of up to £500m to access finance of up to £25m.

Funding to cover salaries is available too. GPs who have self-employed status may be covered by the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) if they meet the criteria. Funding support worth 80% of a locum’s average monthly trading profits – up to £7,500 – has been made available by the government.

2 Cashflow is king

The current environment has made it even more important to have a clear view of a practice’s cashflow, beyond simply understanding its profitability.

It should extend to regular cashflow forecasts that look at a longer period than usual – perhaps as many as six months in advance. Exploring them at a granular level is important too, as this can help to identify any issues that need looking at.

Looking at any payments you have scheduled and identifying any crucial and non-crucial transactions can help you to better understand what income and expenditure you have too.

3 Protection, protection, protection

Many on the frontline have worried about if they have enough cover in place to protect their loved ones should something tragic happen.

For most, there is a basic level of cover in place. The government has committed to paying £60,000 to the families of NHS workers and social care staff who lose their life to coronavirus in the course of their duties.1

Anyone who is in the NHS Pension Scheme is also entitled to death in service benefits too.2 However, many GPs who are returning to practice, or just starting out, along with anyone who opted out of the NHS Pension scheme, might not receive these benefits.

The best thing is to check what cover you have in place and see if you need to take out an additional policy to cover your needs.

Graham Leyfield is national account manager at Wesleyan, the specialist financial services provider for GPs. For more information, please visit https://www.wesleyan.co.uk/secure/specialist-financial-planning.

References

1 Pearce, C. Families of all frontline NHS staff who die with Covid to get £60k payout. Pulse 28 April 2020

http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/clinical/clinical-specialties/respiratory-/families-of-all-frontline-nhs-staff-who-die-with-covid-to-get-60k-payout/20040707.article

2 NHS Employers. Death in service benefits of NHS Pension Scheme. 16 April 2020 https://www.nhsemployers.org/case-studies-and-resources/2020/04/death-in-service-briefing

Guide URL:
https://pulse-intelligence.co.uk/guide/tackling-financial-challenges-of-covid-19-the-key-priorities-gps-need-to-consider/
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