Tips to help GP practices reduce workloads
Whilst the bulk of a GP practice’s NHS income is determined by annual contract changes, there are many areas where practices can improve profitability and efficiency, thereby freeing up time for core work. This can lead to reduced workloads and improved staff wellbeing.
Here are a few tips:
- The role of your Practice Manager. Is their role clearly defined? Some Practice Managers concentrate on running the practice systems and HR role but they have little involvement in the finance function. If you’re looking for a new Practice Manager, it’s important to ascertain what experience they have with practice finances and their knowledge of how the funding works. This is especially important if they’ve come into the role from outside GP practice. A clear handover from their predecessor is key.
If your Practice Manager doesn’t have the resource to spend time looking at finances, it may be worth appointing a separate finance person to keep control of that side of your business. This can even be on a part-time basis.
If you require any financial training for your Practice Manager or Finance Manager from an accounting perspective, please get in touch as we’d be happy to help.
- Dispensing/personally administered drugs income. Your practice could be underclaiming due to incomplete claims; a lack of understanding on what can be claimed; or system/processing errors by NHS Prescription Services and PCSE.
Our recent webinar is well worth a watch. You may be able to make backdated claims if you think you’ve lost out.
- General staff roles. Carry out a comprehensive audit of your staff and be realistic. Do you really need all those administrative staff? Are some of your staff given titles which bring more pay, but in reality are still carrying out less skilled work? As far as possible, aim to have tasks being completed by the ‘right person at the right level’. Be clear what capacity you need to function; don’t automatically replace leavers if you can cope without them.
- Departmental payrolls. If your payroll department isn’t providing you with monthly reports splitting your staff by job role, ask them to do this. This will provide you with a more informative breakdown of monthly costs which you can review for trends and will help to explain variances in costs between months/years.
- Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) funding. More and more roles have become available under this scheme. However, it’s surprising how many practices have staff in these roles yet haven’t pursued a claim for funding. We’ve had clients who’ve been awarded backdated claims for a short period of time, so this is well worth looking at again.
- Are new income streams profitable? We know practices that over-ordered flu vaccines (at the Clinical Commissioning Group’s advice) but due to the high take-up from pharmacies, their patients went elsewhere. The same was true for the COVID vaccine hubs run by the Primary Care Networks (PCNs). These can be profitable income streams but it pays to look into all possible scenarios and access your risk profile.
Don’t feel you have to take on every option available to you; work out those that will most benefit your practice based on limited resources.
- Communication methods. Are you offering all new staff Patient Access and online appointment changes to reduce the time admin staff spend on the phone dealing with these requests? See the NHS England Patient Online: Time Saving Calculator.
Are you sending out your vaccination requests by text where possible rather than letter (which then leads to a phone call anyway)? Are you linking the content on your website where possible to the NHS111 website to save providing so much content yourselves? Did you know you’re entitled to 40,000 free SMS texts a year? Do your managers show their direct dial on their email signatures to save individuals unnecessarily clogging up the main lines?
- Internal audit and training. Are all your processes clearly documented to avoid duplication of efforts/unnecessary checks? Is someone making sure that staff are adequately trained to handle processes involving entering patient data, Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) achievement, etc.? This will help you make maximum income claims.
- Digital software reviews. Do you know how to run a detailed profit and loss account on your accounting software? You can run this to show monthly income and expenses to identify trends and also make sure you’re claiming and receiving all the monies you’re expecting. This should also enable you to chase any outstanding amounts due to you as early as possible. Please get in touch if you need any assistance with this.
- Budgets. You can set these up on your software and run reports to compare projected results with actual, to monitor particular cost items, for example. This can be really useful for tracking areas where costs start spiralling above the expected or accepted level. This could be inevitable, but it could also suggest it’s worth looking into an alternative service provider.
- Benchmarking. Do you or your accountants have the necessary information to allow you to compare results with your own practice for previous years and with other similar practices in your area? As members of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants (AISMA), Larking Gowen has access to benchmarking statistics covering a large number of practices. We can provide you with further information, should this be useful.
- Partner succession. We’re seeing a spate of partners retiring due to the pressures of their role. Sometimes they’re replaced by existing salaried GPs; sometimes longer-term locums. It really pays to look at exactly what resources you need for the practice’s future.
Bear in mind that if a salaried GP becomes a partner on the same sessions, likely you’ll have to pay that individual a higher amount for the additional responsibility, so this could hit the income of existing partners.
Please get in touch for profit, drawings, and current account projections.
If you have any queries, please get in touch with your usual Larking Gowen contact within the Medical team, and one of our specialists will assist you. You can find contact details on the Our People section of our website. Alternatively, you can email us at email@example.com, or telephone 0330 024 0888.
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