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Why do doctors need accountants?

As changes in the NHS lead to ever greater demands on doctors’ time, and the complexity of the financial affairs of medical practitioners increases, most experts would say that it is crucial to employ an accountant, and to ensure that accountant has the necessary knowledge and experience of doctors’ needs.

With many doctors now working ten or more hours a day, with perhaps half of that spent seeing patients, it is vital to reduce any administrative work where possible. In the case of GPs, having an experienced accountant who can deal with tasks such as bookkeeping, drawing up accounts, tax returns and payrolls should help a practice to run more smoothly, thus freeing up as much time as possible for doctors to see their patients.

An accounting specialist constantly on hand

One of the most useful services provided by medical accountants is year-round advice. This means that complex questions regarding issues such as partnership agreements and bidding for contracts can be resolved relatively quickly. The best accountants will make themselves available during the hours in which it is most convenient for doctors to contact them. Typically, this would be in the evenings or at weekends, when doctors are less likely to be at work.

Firms should also arrange for doctors to have a personal accountant, as having regular contact with the same person allows for the development of rapport and understanding. An accountant who knows his or her client well is more likely to be able to help quickly than one who has to spend time going over old ground, and many tricky problems may be ironed out by having expert advice readily available.

The medical sector has its own accounting needs

Doctors need accountants to help them negotiate the specific and complex financial requirements associated with the medical sector. It is therefore essential that any accountants who are employed must have built up substantial experience of working for medical professionals. Whether they are GPs, hospital doctors or locums, medical practitioners should benefit from the accounting, practice management, tax and pension advice that a suitably qualified accountant can provide.

As numerous developments take place within the medical profession, accountants with specialist knowledge will be able to advise doctors on matters that will affect them directly, such as changes in government legislation and acute and primary care trust policy decisions.

As well as offering answers to doctors’ current financial queries, accountants can also give advice regarding plans for the future. Factors such as doctors’ pensions have become complex areas due to recent changes in NHS Pension Schemes. An accountant will be able to guide doctors through the process of weighing up the pros and cons of remaining in existing schemes. Accountants can also help GPs to improve the efficiency of their practices, by providing budgets and cashflow forecasts and offering advice on computerisation.

Financial planning is another service that most accountants will provide, enabling GPs to remain one step ahead financially without sacrificing hours of their time that could be better spent with patients.

Posted by Louise
July 19, 2013

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