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Should You Work For The Nhs Or Enter Private Practice?

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By Author: Tom Hunt
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That is an interesting question. Here is what one doctor, who shall remain nameless, had to say about it just over four years ago.

He said that he had worked for the NHS in one of the allied health care professions for seven years but owing to cost cutting and service reorganisations the opportunities for career progression had drastically (his word) reduced over that period. He had recently managed to gain a promotion to the next pay grade, but his job would not change as he had been functioning at that level for a number of years waiting for a role to become available.

At the same time, he was offered a position with an independent practice which offered to match the pay scale and leave entitlement that he already had in the NHS. While he had not yet seen a contract, he felt that they would be unable to match other benefits of working for the NHS such as the pension, sick pay, and so on.

However, he considered that going private would enable him to have a very reduced caseload of patients where he would be able to make a great difference to the lives of individuals rather than – as he put it – “plastering over the cracks”.

He also thought that a big drawback was that he would then only be able to provide his services to people who could actually afford to pay for them, but overall felt that he would have better job satisfaction working privately. His long-term aim had always been to run his own practice and he felt that by working for one that was already successful he would be able to learn how to do that “from the inside”. He questioned whether he should give up the job security and pension of the NHS in favour of a less stressful working day.

There, no doubt, is something that has occurred to many doctors working in the NHS. There is probably no simple answer.

However, it is true that there are many benefits to working privately, particularly if you start your own practice. The simple fact is that you can dictate your own terms. You can decide how many hours you want to work, and you can decide your own rate of pay. Provided that you build it up into a successful business, you will be able to put money aside into a pension pot of your own, which could finish up being a lot bigger than the NHS pension.

However, here’s the rub. In a private practice you are, indeed, running a business. In the NHS you get a pay cheque at the end of the month, but in a private practice your pay cheque is dependent on the number of patients that you see and also how well they pay you. Some patients will always pay quickly, but others may drag their heels. This is true of any business.

This means that in a private practice you are suddenly faced with a lot more admin than you ever had in the NHS. Bear in mind that the only time you are earning money in a private practice is when you are spending time with patients. Admin is simply nothing other than an overhead. If you are going to enter private practice you need systems to handle all the admin and that either means using your own servers and software or outsourcing it.

Fortunately, today you can outsource your admin to software providers who offer a choice of medical management systems so that you can choose one that fits your needs. You can use your own hardware, or perhaps better still use a service that provides everything that you need in the cloud.

Medical management systems in the cloud offer a number of benefits. First, you don’t need your own hardware and you don’t need to purchase software because, to all intents and purposes you rent it and pay for it as you go. You can access a cloud-based system from anywhere on the planet that has an internet connection and it is open 24/7/365. It will always have maximum security and the very latest software updates, so you don’t need to worry about any of that. All this leaves you more time to spend with patients rather than on admin, which gives you greater earning power.

At the end of the day, only you can decide which way you want to go, but the benefits of private practice are certainly alluring.

PPM Software has built software for the private sector over a period of more than 20 years, and it is designed exclusively for the medical profession. This means that their medical management systems are not generic but created by people who understand the specific needs of a private practice.

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