My partners have left me in the lurch

My partners have left me in the lurch

Our Managing Director Jane Braithwaite has been tackling difficult questions arising from discussions in the digital issues of Independent Practitioner Today. This month she responds to a consultant’s ‘bombshell’.

‘I work in a group with two other partners who have both dropped the bombshell that they are aiming to retire next April. I want to keep my practice going for some years. How do I manage this situation?’

Hearing that the other partners in your group are about to retire with relatively little warning can be anxiety-inducing, to say the least.

You might think that your business is about to disappear or that your income is going to significantly decrease. But with a little planning and careful discussions with your partners, this does not have to be the case.

I can also tell you how to manage partners leaving your group through retirement, with ways to facilitate the transition, and how the group could continue to thrive after they have left.

Look to the start of the group

When the group was formed, hopefully contracts and agreements were drawn up. Buried deep in there should be the mechanism for a partner to voluntarily leave the group.

The contract should spell out how much notice the partner should give, what rights they have to any profit in the group at the time of leaving and any obligations of the group to the partner after they have left.

Of prime importance from a clinical standpoint is deciding who is going to look after the exiting partner’s patients and how to facilitate a clear and comprehensive handover.

Financial obligations can be difficult to disentangle, with the issue of ongoing profits derived from patients that the leaving partner acquired being particularly thorny. Hopefully, this should all be spelled out in the agreement signed on formation of the group.

Things become much trickier if there was no founding agreement, or the agreement does not cover the retirement of partners.

This situation can only be resolved by careful negotiation between the remaining partner and those who are leaving.

What should this plan involve?

It is very unlikely that you would be able to convince your partners not to retire, and you probably shouldn’t try. What is important is that you come to a plan that works for you, for them and for the group and its patients.

In the meetings that you need to call to sort this out, it is important that everyone is open and honest about what they want to get from the process, with their objectives and priorities clearly stated.

You may think that your partners want to ensure that they get the maximum value for their ‘share’ of the group, but they may be more interested in an orderly transition and the stability of the group than maximising their personal profit.

The outcome that you need to get from your meetings is a written agreement on how your partners will exit the group. This will protect both your interest and theirs and allow an orderly process for their retirement.

You do not need to shut the group down, but it is unlikely that it will be able to continue in exactly the same way with only one third of the partners left.

Having a plan in place will allow you to prepare for the transition and allow you to make changes to the form and function of the group as you see fit.

What options are there to change the practice?

Before leaping to a decision, it is worth thinking about what form you would like the group to have. Consider how the group was before the partners retired. Were you happy with the structure?

One option might be for you to take over the entire practice by yourself. The advantages of this are that you would have sole control over the direction of the practice and all the rewards of this hard work would be yours.

On the other hand, if the workload was previously shared between three colleagues, you may find that it is not manageable by yourself.

If you do decide to take over your partner’s shares of the group, you will need to decide how you ‘inherit’ their patients.

It is important from a clinical standpoint that the patients experience continuity of care as they transition from one clinician to another.

Compensation payment

Your partners may want some form of compensation for passing their patients to you. This could take the form of a one-off payment or an on-going reward dependent on the revenue that the patient brings to the group.

The nature of this financial return should hopefully be spelled out in the contracts that you signed when the group was formed. If this is not covered in any agreement, then it will need to be negotiated as part of the exit process of your partners.

If you feel that the workload is not manageable alone and you wish to keep the current number of patients, then you will have to look for other partners to join the group.

While the complexities of recruitment to join a group practice are beyond the scope of this article, there are a few things that are important.

Rather than just co-opting the first consultant that you can find, consider what skills and knowledge would complement your own. Is there particular training or background that may help the group expand revenues and offer new services in the future?

Take time to make sure that all the legal work is completed correctly, with the help of an expert. Ensure that those who join sign a contract, so that everyone is aware of their new responsibilities to the group.

Employ staff

If you feel that some of the workload could be managed without the direct input of a consultant, you may be able to employ staff such as nurses to undertake clinical tasks on your behalf. This can help make sure that your limited time is used for activities that only you can perform.

If you do not currently employ clinical staff, careful advice is needed to ensure that you are providing a service that is safe and well-supervised, with on-going training and professional development.

If your partners announce they are going to retire, it is important not to panic. While it may feel like you are about to lose the business that you worked so hard for, this is not the case.

There are a number of ways that a group could continue, either in its current form or by altering its structure.

Change can be uncomfortable, but it is inevitable. This may give you the opportunity to push the group in new directions, with great personal and professional rewards.

We have a team dedicated to marketing private medical practice and have a wealth of experience for you to tap into.  Call us today 020 7952 1008 or via send us an email at info@designatedmedical.com.

Managing Director Jane Braithwaite regularly writes for the Independent Practitioner Today, with this article first being published here.

 

 

‘It’s good to talk’ to defuse disharmony

‘It’s good to talk’ to defuse disharmony

Our Managing Director writes about how to ease tensions within a private practice. First published in Independent Practitioner Today.

Tensions are not uncommon when consultants get together to form groups in private practice in the current financial climate. Our Troubleshooter Jane Braithwaite tackles an appeal for help. 

‘We have been working in a group for two years now and we are starting to experience tensions between us. How do we manage these tensions without breaking up the group?’ 

Running a busy private practice group can be rewarding but time-consuming at the best of times. If you are experiencing disagreements with the other members of your group, it can feel overwhelming.  

Tensions, disagreements or even arguments can be common, especially among the high-performing clinicians that make up your group. 

This article will look at how to approach your colleagues to diffuse this tension, how to reduce the chance of divisions going forward and what steps to take if you feel the situation is irretrievable and the group needs to be dissolved. 

There are a number of steps you can take to resolve this situation. 

Tensions are common  

The nature of a group can lead to building tensions. It is rare that everyone in the group has exactly the same goals, both professionally and personally.  

These slight differences in objective can lead to stress, which can manifest in many different ways. 

The reasons for these disputes vary from person to person and from group to group. They could be related to individual financial problems, the clinical direction that the group is moving in, the way work is allocated or how profit is distributed.  

Whatever the cause, it will be essential to see the problem from everyone’s point of view in order to come to an amicable solution. 

How to start the discussion 

The process of understanding the problems within the group and addressing them is key.  

One of the best methods is a meeting to talk through all the issues. Everyone must be present, because if someone feels excluded, it may lead to resentment and the underlying problems cannot get solved. 

At the outset, you should set the expectation that these meetings are the forum to talk through all the tensions, with no side discussions or confidential chats that do not involve all members of the group. 

This meeting aims to bring up all the problems that people feel are holding the group back, work together to find a solution and decide how it will be implemented. 

How to structure the discussion 

If you lead or manage the group, you may feel it is natural that you take charge of this meeting.  

Depending on what needs to be discussed or what the underlying issues are, the other members may find it more difficult to be open and honest if one person appears to have more sway than the rest. 

To ensure that there is no power imbalance in the discussions, you might find that having an independent person to chair the meeting can help things flow a bit better. They can help keep the meeting on topic and make certain that everyone is having their say. 

If you have significant problems within the group, it is likely that this meeting will involve a degree of confrontation.  

This is never a comfortable position to be in, both for yourself and others. Going into this meeting prepared, either by having thought through what needs to be said or bringing notes with you, will make sure that you can manage to get your point across. 

Psychologist Bruce Tuckman described the stages that teams go through when working on a project together. He named these stages ‘forming, storming, norming, performing’.  

The ‘storming’ stage is characterised by potential conflict between members as everyone tries to work out individual roles and pushes against boundaries. 

It may be that, as a group, you have entered the ‘storming’ stage, with its uncomfortable conflicts, and that you need to work through to reach ‘norming’, where everyone resolves their differences, and ‘performing’ where members work together to achieve the group’s goals. 

If you can push together through this difficult stage, you may find that you have bonded better as a team and can attain greater success in the future. 

How could the process go wrong? 

Any situation involving confrontation is fraught with pitfalls. 

If relationships within the group are already fractured, there may be considerable resistance to bringing about the meeting. Sometimes in these circumstances, there is one member of the group who can act as a ‘peacemaker’ and bring the others together. 

It can be tempting to phrase all communications about these meetings in hard-nosed business language. By humanising what you say and acknowledging your own and others’ discomfort with the situation, you might find that everyone can open up a bit more about the problems that they see. 

Some people may find this level of discomfort and confrontation intolerable and, rather than face the issues, may choose to leave the group. 

 If there is no way to bring about a meeting between members, then the business relationship, and thus the group itself, may not be salvageable. At this point, the advice of experts such as lawyers and accountants will become invaluable. 

How can we improve in the future? 

If you have managed to have these discussions, then you have taken a difficult but important step for your business. It would be a shame now to slip back into your old ways and find that the same problems and conflicts are continued. 

Look back at the contracts and agreements that you had drawn up when you formed the group. Do these still reflect the way the business is run? You may find that you have altered some of the roles, responsibilities and functions of group members and may wish to put this down in writing in new contracts. 

You will need an agreed structure for the future and this should be documented and signed by all members of the group.  

If necessary, you should seek advice about drafting these new contracts and agreements to make sure that everyone has clarity about what they can expect of others and what others will expect of them. 

Ongoing communication will be essential, perhaps in the form of a monthly group meeting. This will provide a forum for issues to be aired while they are still small and easily solvable and allow them to be dealt with before they become a threat to the group. 

What if the group cannot be salvaged? 

Sadly, it is not uncommon for dis­agreements to snowball, ending up with a break-up of the group.  

If your founding agreements included provisions for dissolving the group, then this process will be much easier. 

If the initial contracts did not cover this, then it will be necessary to negotiate with the other members of the group to find an amicable way to split the assets. This could be complicated and having the advice and input of experts as early as possible is advised. 

Managing conflicts, tensions and disagreements in a group can be difficult. If you can find a way to bring everyone together as a team, where each individual is empowered to raise problems, you may find that the resulting group functions much better than before. 

If you have any specific questions that you would like answered in upcoming editions, please do feel free to get in touch. 

Info@designatedmedical.com or call 020 7952 1008

 

Do you meet the needs of self-pay patients in your private practice?

Do you meet the needs of self-pay patients in your private practice?

There are a number of articles in the press regarding the current demands on the NHS resulting in increased waiting times. A recent BBC news article suggests that long NHS waiting times appear to be pushing people into paying for private treatment. Data suggests that there were 69,000 self-funded treatments in the UK in the final three months of 2021 – representing a 39% rise from the same period before the pandemic. 

Given this, we look at 5 things private practice should consider to meet the needs of self-pay patients. 

1. Consider the needs of self-pay patients  

The headline numbers, which currently suggest 6.6 million people are on NHS waiting lists, lead us to believe that this will result in an influx of patients turning to private healthcare for treatment. While this assumption will no doubt lead to more private patients as people seek out alternative treatment options, it is necessary to consider other factors. 

Not all patients facing long NHS waiting times will have the funds to turn to private healthcare, especially with the current increase in the cost-of-living crisis that adds even more financial pressure.  

To be effective, a private practice needs to consider exactly which patients they are trying to attract. Considering the exact patient profile and developing an understanding of what they are looking for will mean services can be tailored specifically to those looking for private healthcare. 

With the added financial constraints faced by many, offering treatment payment plans is likely to be a key consideration for many self-pay patients. 

2. Understand the private healthcare market  

Developing an understanding of the conditions within the current private healthcare market will assist in creating an effective strategy for private practice.  

In addition to the higher demand for services from patients, recent figures from PHIN suggest that there is a 12% reduction in the number of active consultants in private healthcare from July-Dec 2021 compared to the same period in 2019.  

With the increase in demand from self-pay patients due to NHS waiting times and a reduction in the number of private consultants, there is likely to be an increased number of enquiries received from patients seeking advice and treatment.  

If systems and staff capacity in are not available to deal with an increased number of patient enquiries within private practice, this could have a negative impact.  

It is vital to develop a robust business strategy that includes reviewing receptionist and PA capacity to ensure an adequate number of experienced staff are available to respond to enquiries and manage the treatment journey of self-pay patients. 

3. Keep a clear and consistent message  

By understanding the needs of self-pay patients, it is possible to develop a clear and consistent message that relates to your audience. 

If you specialise in diagnostic testing it would be beneficial to develop specific offerings that will make these services relevant. For example, tailoring specific well-woman or well-man health screening packages rather than simply listing individual diagnostic tests that people may not understand. This helps present what you do in an easy-to-digest format.  

It is also important to make sure that you highlight the key aspects of your service and address the key issues that self-pay patients have. Most potential patients will want to know about your practice and experience, how quickly they can be seen, what is involved and how much it will cost. 

Presenting this information in an upfront and clear manner will help inform patients about your practice and lead to enquiries from those that are looking for a treatment that you provide. 

4. Develop an effective online presence 

Given that there are fewer active consultants in private healthcare and there is likely to be more demand from self-pay patients looking for treatments, it is essential to make sure your practice can be found by these patients. 

Data from PHIN suggests that while London continues to be the most active self-pay market, there has been increased demand in other geographic areas. Self-pay patient numbers between October and December 2021 compared to 2019 have increased 90% in Wales, 84% in Scotland and 75% in the East Midlands.  

This means that offering services remotely and attracting enquiries from these growing geographic areas is a crucial factor to consider.  

The best way to do this is to have an effective online presence, which starts with having a website that clearly outlines what you offer. It is then necessary to ensure your website is found by those self-pay patients looking for treatments. There are many ways to achieve this but implementing a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Content Marketing Plan will help ensure your website attracts enquiries from your specific target audience.   

5. Monitor and review  

It is vital to monitor and review all activities to determine how effectively your private practice meets the needs of self-pay patients.  

Performing patient surveys, monitoring call enquiries, and reviewing marketing activity will help develop a better understanding of what elements are working and where modifications might be necessary.  

For example, monitoring website visitors and where this traffic is coming from will help inform whether your current strategy is working and more importantly provide insights into what potential patients are looking for when they visit your website. 

Regularly monitoring and reviewing these aspects of your business will help to tailor your service in a way that meets the needs of patients.  

 Summary 

There is no doubt that the increasing NHS waiting times will lead to an increase in the number of patients turning to private healthcare. The challenge for private practice is to ensure it understands the demands of this market and can effectively attract and deliver treatments to these patients. 

Achieving this requires developing a robust strategy that includes ensuring effective levels of experienced staff to deal with an increase in patient enquiries looking for treatment advice. 

With the demand for self-pay treatment increasing in other geographic areas in addition to London, there is a need to implement effective marketing to reach patients in these areas. Developing an effective online website presence together with ongoing monitoring will better place private practice to meet the needs of self-pay patients. 

At Designated Medical we are experts in providing flexible, experienced support for all your private practice needs. An integrated approach allows our carefully selected team members to embed into your practice, allowing you to concentrate on delivering exceptional service and care for your patients. Our experts offer bespoke support across Accountancy, Bookkeeping, Medical PA and Marketing. Our team can work to suit your requirements – tailored to your practice, as and when we support is needed. 

 

Contact our Marketing Director Michelle Wheeler to discuss your needs.
michelle@designatedgroup.com
020 7952 1008
How to help your staff financially

How to help your staff financially

This article was written by Jane Braithwaite and originally posted on Independent Practitioner Today.

For the last few months, one of the top news stories each day relates to the increasing cost of living in the UK. The headline as I write is that inflation has hit the highest rate in 40 years and reached 9% in April 2022. Maybe by the time you read this it has gone even higher. Energy prices are increasing drastically as well as the cost of food, clothing and many other household items. As a result of the increase in inflation, the Bank of England raised the base rate of interest for the first time in many years, putting more pressure on homeowners with higher mortgage payments. 

With the additional increase in National Insurance, this is all putting a significant number of people in the UK under financial pressure. I think it is safe to assume that most employees would like a pay rise in their current job or they will start to look for a new role with a higher salary. As employers, there is a risk that we will lose staff if we do not take action to support our current employees.

Pay demand 

Most employees will be demanding a pay increase at least in line with inflation so that they feel they are at least standing still in terms of their financial well-being. But for most employers, the prospect of giving every individual within their company an inflation-based increase is simply not a possibility. Offering every employee a pay rise in line with inflation is not only difficult for most employers to deliver, but economists would warn us against doing so for other reasons.  

Now, I am no expert when it comes to economics, but my understanding is that economists caution us against increasing salaries across the board, as it would allow spending to continue at current levels, which will cause inflation to continue to rise resulting in a vicious circle. I am happy for anyone to question this, of course, as many readers of Independent Practitioner Today will have a far deeper understanding of the issue than I can claim to have. Research shows us that one of the most common causes of stress for individuals is their financial well-being and this is going to become a major concern for many more in the coming months and potentially years. 

Extreme stress 

As employers, we also appreciate that if our teams are feeling stressed in their personal lives, they are not going to be able to perform to the best of their abilities in the workplace and extreme stress can also lead to a higher absence rate from work due to ill health. 

So, what do we do to support our employees through this difficult time? If increasing salaries in line with inflation are not possible and not advisable, then what do we do as employers? Maybe the answer is to increase salaries where possible by a margin not in keeping with inflation but enough to try to alleviate the situation for individuals, especially for those on lower salaries. There may be other ways in which employers can help by thinking beyond the immediate issue of salaries. 

Several schemes may be relevant to our employees, including season ticket loan schemes which aim to help employees where the cost of commuting is a major budget item. Research by the company Employee Benefits confirms that this is one of the most common benefits offered by employers, with 59% of employers doing so. 

The season ticket loan is an interest-free loan for employees to cover the cost of travelling to and from the workplace via modes such as tram, rail or bus. Some schemes can also be used to cover parking costs too. The loan repayments are paid monthly through the employee’s net pay over a set period.

For keen cyclists, the cycle-to-work scheme could be an attractive possibility. It allows employees to save 26 to 40% on their bikes and accessories. The employee has no up-front payment and the monthly payments are taken tax-efficiently from the employee’s salary by their employer. 

Tax breaks

During the Covid pandemic, when we were all advised to work from home if possible, the Government introduced tax breaks to help alleviate high energy bills. From April 2022, this tax break has been tightened and while some employees can claim, for many this is no longer possible. Without a doubt, heating costs are higher for those working from home and next winter this will become more of an issue. If the Government is not going to provide support for home workers, then employers may need to step up. 

For companies who have introduced a working-from-home strategy, there will be cost benefits associated with reducing the need for office space and a proportion of this saving could be passed on to employees to help with higher energy costs. A different type of approach would be to offer an Employee Discount Scheme to help employees save money on their purchases. These schemes offer employees discounts for products and services that they are likely to buy regularly. For example, one company called PerkBox offers discounts at Sainsbury’s and M&S.

The final suggestion is to help employees manage their finances more effectively by offering access to support services and financial training. There are lots of organisations and training providers offering such support and these could prove to be very helpful to some employees. But this type of approach needs to be handled with extreme care to avoid any suggestion that employees are being judged or criticised.

Tone deaf

In recent times, we have seen numerous politicians slated for their comments regarding individuals being unable to budget and unable to cook. It was even suggested that individuals solve the issue by taking on extra hours or an extra job. All of these comments appear tone-deaf to people who are working hard just to keep their heads above water. Everything I hear and read suggests that the cost-of-living crisis is going to be a long-term issue and so, as employers, we must do what we can to support our employees. 

One obvious solution for our employees will be to move to a better-paid job and so, if we do not take action, our biggest issue will be a recruitment crisis, which is time-consuming and expensive. Retaining our employees by supporting them will prove to be the best option for both employer and employee. 

If you have any specific questions that you would like answered in coming editions, please do get in touch. 

Companies that a doctor can use to implant the Cycle to Work scheme include:

www.bike2workscheme.co.uk
www.cyclescheme.co.uk

The cost of living crisis and what this means for employers.

The cost of living crisis and what this means for employers.

This article was written by Jane Braithwaite and originally posted on Independent Practitioner Today. 

For the last few months, one of the top news stories each day relates to the increasing cost of living in the UK. The headline this morning is that inflation has hit the highest rate in 40 years and reached 9% in April 2022. Energy prices are increasing drastically as well as the cost of food, clothing and many other household items. As a result of the increase in inflation, the Bank of England has recently raised the base rate of interest for the first time in many years, putting more pressure on homeowners with higher mortgage payments. With the additional increase in National insurance, this is all putting a significant number of people in the UK under financial pressure.

What does this mean for us as employers?
I think it is safe to assume that most employees would like a pay rise in their current job or they will start to look for a new role with a higher salary. As employers, there is a risk that we will lose staff if we do not take action to support our current employees.

Most employees will be demanding a pay increase at least in line with inflation so that they feel they are at least standing still in terms of their financial wellbeing. But for most employers, the prospect of giving every individual within their company an inflation-based increase is simply not a possibility.

Offering every employee, a pay rise in line with inflation is not only difficult for most employers to deliver, but economists would warn us against doing so for other reasons. I am no expert when it comes to economics, but my understanding is that economists caution us against increasing salaries across the board, which will allow spending to continue at current levels, which will cause inflation to continue to rise resulting in a vicious circle. I am happy for anyone to question this of course, as many readers of the IPT will have a far deeper understanding of the issue than I can claim to have.

Research shows us that one of the most common causes of stress for individuals is their financial well-being and this is going to become a major concern for many more in the coming months and potentially years. As employers, we also appreciate that if our teams are feeling stressed in their personal lives, they are not going to be able to perform to the best of their abilities in the workplace and extreme stress can also lead to a higher absence rate from work, due to ill health.

So, what do we do to support our employees through this difficult time?

If increasing salaries in line with inflation are not possible and not advisable, then what do we do as employers? Maybe the answer is to increase salaries where possible by a margin, not in keeping with inflation, but enough to try to alleviate the situation for individuals, especially for those on lower salaries.

There may be other ways in which employers can help by thinking beyond the immediate issue of salaries.

Several schemes may be relevant to our employees including season ticket loan schemes which aim to help employees where the cost of commuting is a major budget item. Research by the company Employee Benefits confirms that this is one of the most common benefits offered by employers, with 59% of employers doing so. The season ticket loan is an interest-free loan for employees to cover the cost of travelling to and from the workplace via modes such as tram, rail, bus, etc. Some schemes can also be used to cover parking costs too. The loan repayments are paid monthly through the employee’s net pay over a set period.

For keen cyclists, the cycle-to-work scheme could be an attractive possibility. It allows employees to save 26 to 40% on their bikes and accessories. The employee has no upfront payment, and the monthly payments are taken tax efficiently from the employee’s salary by their employer.

During the Covid pandemic, when we were all advised to work from home, if possible, the government introduced tax breaks to help alleviate higher energy bills. From April 2022 this tax break has been tightened and whilst some employees can claim, for many this is no longer possible. Without a doubt, heating costs are higher for those working from home and next Winter this will become more of an issue. If the government is not going to provide support for home workers, then employers may need to step up. For companies who have introduced a working from home strategy, there will be cost benefits associated with reducing the need for office space and a proportion of this saving could be passed on to employees to help with the increasing cost of energy.

A different type of approach would be to offer an Employee Discount Scheme to help employees save money on their purchases. These schemes offer employees discounts for products and services that they are likely to buy regularly. For example, one company called PerkBox offers discounts at Sainsbury’s and M& S.

The final suggestion is to help employees manage their finances more effectively by offering access to support services and financial training. There are lots of organisations and training providers offering such support and these could prove to be very helpful to some employees. This type of approach needs to be handled with extreme care to avoid any suggestion that employees are being judged or criticised. Over the last few days, we have seen numerous politicians slated for their comments regarding individuals being unable to budget and unable to cook. Yesterday it was suggested that individuals solve the issue by taking on extra hours or an extra job. All of these comments appear tone-deaf to individuals who are working hard just to keep their heads above water!

Again, I repeat that I am no economist, but everything I hear and read suggests that the cost-of-living crisis is going to be a long-term issue and so, as employers, we must do what we can to support our employees. One obvious solution for our employees will be to move to a better-paid job and so if we do not take action our biggest issue will be a recruitment crisis, which is time-consuming and expensive. Retaining our employees by supporting them will prove to be the best option for both employer and employee.

If you have any specific questions that you would like answered in coming editions, please do get in touch

Jane Braithwaite
MD of Designated Medical

At Designated Medical we believe that with the right professional team to support you, your possibilities are endless. That is why we offer flexible, experienced support for all your private practice needs. An integrated approach allows our carefully selected team members to embed into your practice, allowing you to concentrate on delivering exceptional service and care for your patients. Our experts offer bespoke support across Accountancy, Marketing, Medical PA, HR, and Recruitment and can work to suit your requirements – tailored to your practice, as and when we are needed.

Opportunities exist outside of the NHS.

Opportunities exist outside of the NHS.

Leaving the NHS

Planning to leave the NHS? For the huge number of doctors who say they are contemplating a move, Jane Braithwaite shares details of the support available that can offer a route to an alternative career path.

Article originally written for and posted on Independent Practitioner Today.

The last year has been a struggle for everyone in some respect, but for those working in the NHS the pressure of dealing with Covid-19 has been immense. 

We all vividly remember the battle to provide everyone in the health service with adequate PPE, so they felt some level of protection, closely followed by harrowing images of faces battered and bruised by long periods of wearing masks. 

Those working in primary care had to adapt to deliver a Covid-safe environment for patients and transform the provision of most services using technology to provide virtual consultations. 

As vaccines became available, GP practices and hospitals have worked something close to a miracle to ensure they can be administered throughout the population rapidly. 

We have recently seen a new campaign entitled ‘If I die, it will be your fault’, launched by the Institute of General Practice Management to call for an end to abuse from patients following their latest report, which concludes that most GP receptionists face unprecedented levels of abuse at work. 

And now the same NHS staff face the challenge of dealing with long waiting lists of patients whose treatment has been delayed by Covid.

 

Worrying report

A report earlier this summer from the BMA delivers a stark and worrying insight into how doctors are feeling right now, and the evidence is clear that many of them are unhappy and are considering leaving the NHS in the next year.

It said: ‘Thousands of exhausted doctors in the UK have told the BMA they are considering leaving the NHS in the next year, as many continue to battle stress and burnout without adequate respite from the exhaustion caused by the demands of the pandemic.’

Responses came from over 4,000 doctors and 31% of them stated they are more likely to take early retirement, which has more than doubled since the survey was done 12 months ago. Half of the respondents said they are more likely to work fewer hours and 25% more likely to take a career break. 

The survey also suggests a strong desire by many to continue to work, but in a different environment. Twenty per cent of respondents are more likely to leave the NHS for another career, with 17% considering working in another country and 14% more likely to work as a locum. 

If doctors follow through on these desires to retire, work fewer hours or leave the NHS for another career, huge resource gaps will develop in the NHS. 

 

Support available

Of course, over time, the desire for some doctors to leave the NHS may decline and the NHS pension may be an important factor, but for those who are considering alternative careers, I wanted to investigate and share details of the support and the organisations available that can offer a route to an alternative career path. 

Before considering the options, it is also helpful to understand the reasons why there is a desire to leave the NHS, as this gives useful insight into the objectives of doctors when seeking alternative careers. 

We often assume, when it comes to career choice, that money is the greatest motivator for most individuals. 

But the BMA survey showed that pay was quoted as the main reason for leaving the NHS by 29% of the respondents, while workload and personal well-being drew a much higher response. 

 

Heavy workload

Forty-four per cent of respondents looking to leave the NHS said that workload was a factor and 43% highlighted their own personal well-being. 

So in looking for alternative careers, opportunities that offer a more manageable workload and a better work-life balance will be hugely appealing. 

Of course, finances will be a significant factor for many and a great place to look for helpful information is Medics Money.

Medics money was founded by Dr Tommy Perkins and Dr Ed Cantelo to help doctors, dentists and other professionals make better financial decisions. Of particular note, Ed is a GP trainee and also a chartered accountant and tax adviser with nine years’ experience at accountancy firm PWC. 

On its website, you will find a wealth of resources in the form of articles and eBooks, but its most valuable offering is a series of podcasts in which it covers a huge range of topics of relevance to the profession. 

It’s latest offering, called ‘Episode 44 – The NHS pensions trap with salary sacrifice’, would be a good listen as would ‘Episode 25 – Using a limited company to save tax and invest to retire early. 

 

Private practice

One obvious option for doctors looking for a career outside the NHS is, of course, private practice, and with a greater desire for improved well-being and a more manageable workload, this is most definitely an option that may appeal to many. 

The aim of Private Practice Pro is to help doctors launch, run and grow their own private medical practice. It is founded by Mr Giles Davies, consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon, and Tom Davies who is a lawyer and former chief investment officer of Seedrs. 

Private Practice Pro offers a video-based course for doctors looking to set up in private practice with Giles acting as medical coach and Tom as a business coach.

The course is made up of over 55 on-demand videos complemented by 30 templates and guides and, for interested doctors, Private Practice Pro regularly runs webinars and small-group workshops. 

 

Entrepreneurial doctors

For the more entrepreneurial doctors, Doctorpreneurs is a global community of doctors, medical students and other interested individuals focusing on healthcare innovation and entrepreneurship.

In its most recent newsletter, it includes an inspiring interview with the chief executive and founder of Tympa Health, which is a London based start-up that has created the world’s first, all in one, hearing health assessment system. 

It also includes details of job opportunities across a wide range of sectors. This is a good place to start to understand the type of job opportunities that are currently available and it is an exciting discovery.

It is free to join, and you simply sign up on its website.

Changing career

My final suggestion is Medic Footprints, who provide ‘The world’s biggest gateway to alternative careers for doctors’.

This is again an organisation led by doctors, providing a wealth of information on their website regarding changing careers and connecting doctors with career coaches who can help manage the process. 

Their job board presents several exciting opportunities including some overseas roles that will appeal to those doctors interested in working outside the UK. 

You can join their community for free on their website or upgrade to their premium package for access to their series of webinars and a free CV review.  

In my search for supportive organisations for doctors when looking for a career change, I also discovered that the NHS provides further information on its website. 

Back in 2017, NHS England published a paper offering guidance for doctors looking to leave the NHS, which included a selection of organisations including Medic Footprints. 

In an ideal world, we would all like doctors to enjoy their career within the NHS and to want to stay, but right now it seems the best approach may be to ensure that the wealth of talent is not lost and is engaged in other rewarding healthcare careers that ultimately benefit the UK population now and in the future. 

In my role as MD at Designated Medical, I work with many doctors pursuing either a full- or part-time career in private practice and I would be happy to help anyone who would like to know more about getting started.

 

 

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