AISMA in the news

AISMA members regularly write in the specialist GP and practice management publications, offering expert advice to doctors on the key issues of the day.

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HMRC sharpens its focus on doctors

July 11, 2011

Doctors are being warned to keep their tax affairs in first class working order as HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) tightens its grip on the medical profession. Delegates at the annual conference of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants (AISMA) heard Bob Trunchion, tax principal at MacIntyre Hudson and member of the firm’s Healthcare sector group, outline the latest in a series of measures taken by HMRC that will pile the pressure on doctors.

These include a stringent late filing penalty regime, introduced in April this year. Replacing the standard one-off £100 penalty for late filing of self-assessment tax returns, a staged system introduces fines that mount up the longer the length of delay. Doctors sending their tax return one day late will pay £100 and then £10 a day up to a maximum of £900 for the first three months. Delays of six months mean doctors paying a further £300 or 5% of the tax due, which could be a considerably higher sum for doctors, and another £300 or 5% of tax due for 12 month delays. These penalties for late filing are in addition to the surcharges for late payment of tax and the penalties for errors in tax returns which can amount to 100% of the tax due in cases of deliberate understatement and concealment.

Bob Trunchion said: “HMRC put the medical profession under the spotlight last year with the introduction of the Tax Health Plan, which was an attempt to identify doctors who are deliberately avoiding tax. It has signalled its intention to keep a close eye on consultants and specialists who are increasingly likely to face enquiries and investigations.” Mr Trunchion said that if doctors do not have the evidence to support income and expenses, HMRC is likely to come down extremely hard.

Delegates at the AISMA conference heard Mr Trunchion describe different examples of how doctors could fall foul of HMRC rules, including the area of continuing professional development (CPD). While CPD fees would normally be considered an allowable expense, if the CPD led to an additional qualification it could be described as ‘betterment’ allowing the doctor the potential to earn more in the future. Consequently this could not be deemed an allowable expense. This was just one of several areas where doctors need to take care, said Mr Trunchion.

Luke Bennett, AISMA committee member and partner at accountancy firm Winter Rule, said: “Tax returns that include inaccuracies, through careless mistake or deliberate error, will incur substantial penalties that could be as much as 100% of the potential lost revenue. Doctors are facing unprecedented pressure from HMRC and should turn to a competent specialist medical accountant to help them keep their affairs in order.”

Summer issue of AISMA Doctor Newsline published

July 4, 2011

The Summer 2011 issue of AISMA Doctor Newsline, the publication of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants, is published today Monday 4th July with an essential mix of advice and commentary on the business of running a busy GP practice.

With practice income under serious threat in the months ahead, this issue opens with some indispensable advice from AISMA members on how practices can reduce expenses and boost earnings.

Practice management guru Kathie Applebee offers her thoughts on how outsourcing can help practices cut back on expenses, while specialist solicitor Andrew Lockhart-Mirams analyses recent legal proceedings that could herald yet more cost-cutting for PMS practices.

Finally, there is a warning for GPs to keep their tax affairs in first class working order as HM Revenue and Customs tightens its grip on the medical profession.

Bob Senior, AISMA Chairman, says: “While GPs are understandably concerned about proposed increases in pension contributions and retirement age, they need to focus now on how higher taxes, due to bite in 2012, will reduce their after tax income. Improving operating efficiency now will go a long way to relieving the pain and GPs need look no further than this issue of AISMA Doctor Newsline for advice on how to do that.”

AISMA Doctor Newsline is available exclusively to clients of AISMA accountants.

Doctors wishing to contact their local AISMA accountant can find details here.

Spring issue of AISMA Doctor Newsline published

April 1, 2011

The Spring 2011 issue of AISMA Doctor Newsline, the publication of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants, is published today with an essential mix of advice and commentary on the business of running a busy GP practice.

Leading with a round-up of tips from AISMA accountants from all around the country on how to ease the tax burden in the months ahead, AISMA Doctor Newsline also focuses on GP commissioning with articles from leading solicitor Andrew Lockhart-Mirams and Kathie Applebee, primary care organisation psychologist.

While Andrew Lockhart-Mirams analyses some of the problems currently being experienced by Consortia, Kathie Applebee explains how choice of consortium can affect practice income. Also looking at the changes ahead, chartered surveyor Chris Johnson has some advice on how GP premises can play a role in helping GPs to meet new demands and generate additional income.

Deborah Wood, AISMA Vice-Chairman, says: “The focus on commissioning in this issue of AISMA Doctor Newsline provides some valuable insight into how practices can get involved and plan for the significant changes looming in primary care.”

AISMA Doctor Newsline is available exclusively to clients of AISMA accountants.

Doctors wishing to contact their local AISMA accountant can find details here.

Health promotion campaign wastes millions, claim GPs

March 11, 2011

GPs have condemned the government in Scotland for wasting millions of pounds of scarce NHS resources on a ‘worthless’ health promotion campaign.

Doctors at the Scottish annual GP conference today voted unanimously that the Scottish Government’s campaign, Life Begins at 40, is a waste of money.

They agreed the campaign did nothing to address inequalities and used money that was vitally needed elsewhere within the health service.

One GP, Dr Steve Haigh, of Lothian, complained: ‘This project encourages people over 40 to check on their health by accessing an online questionnaire or speaking to an NHS 24 advisor to receive individually targeted health information. Surely the same is already available online and in every pharmacy and GP surgery across the country’.

He said the ‘40’ target was ‘random’.

10 MARCH 2011

AISMA warns of pension certificate time bomb

February 28, 2011

The Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants is warning some GPs to expect an additional burden of pension administration following proposed changes to pension regulations. Full time GPs aged 50 or over, particularly those paying added year pension contributions, are most likely to be affected by the changes. The new rules state that GPs with an uplift in excess of £50,000 in their annual pension value must receive an NHS Pensions Agency (NHSPA) valuation certificate no later than 6th October after the end of the tax year. This is so that tax adjustments can be made in tax returns due by 31st January and will probably require the GP to submit a certificate of pensionable profits to their PCT by 6th June. The current deadline is 28th February, eight months later and only after practice accounts have been finalised and tax returns submitted.

Deborah Wood, AISMA vice-chairman and head of healthcare services at Moore and Smalley, said: “It is impossible for GPs with practice year ends of 31st March to complete their accounts, tax returns and pension certificates by 6th June. The only solution will be for them to submit an estimated certificate of pensionable profits and this will require a significant amount of work on their behalf by their accountants.”

GPs will be penalised twice as a result of the proposed change in regulations. As well as paying a fee to their accountants for the additional work required in preparing the estimated certificate, they will also need to pay the NHSPA for a corrected valuation once the final certificate of pensionable profits has been submitted. Ms Wood understands that this fee could be hefty. As the tax position may change as a result of the corrected information this may also require amendments to tax returns, possibly incurring penalties and interest charges payable to HMRC. In addition the transitional rules for the 2011/12 tax and pensions year extend the deadline for the NHSPA report to 6th October 2013 which is a considerable time after the 31st January 2013 due date for filing the tax return.

Ms Woods said: “The proposed change in regulations has resulted in a set of pension rules that are not fit for purpose for GPs. Over the coming months AISMA will be in dialogue with the NHSPA and British Medical Association with the aim of establishing a fairer process that puts a stop to GPs having to pay unnecessary fees.” AISMA will also be monitoring PCTs’ performance in processing pension certificates to the required deadlines as they deal with the effects of the Health and Social Care Bill.

AISMA is advising GPs to consult with their accountants to find out if the annual increase in their pension value is likely to exceed £50,000. Doctors wishing to contact their local AISMA member for further advice can find details on the AISMA website.

Bill risks patients’ confidentiality, warn Doctors

February 24, 2011

The BMA has voiced fears that the age of consortia GPs following the Health and Social Care Bill could threaten the confidentiality of patient records.

Ethics department head Dr Vivienne Nathanson claimed the Government was putting its desire for access to information ahead of respect for patient confidentiality.

She warned: ‘The Health Bill proposes that a number of bodies – including the Secretary of State for Health, the newly formed Commissioning Board and the NHS Information Centre – should be given the right to obtain and disclose confidential patient information for any number of unspecified purposes.

‘There is very little reference to rules on patient confidentiality that would ensure patients are asked before their information is shared or guarantee that the patient’s identity will not be revealed. Fears that their data may be shared with others may result in patients withholding important information; this may not only affect their own health but has implications for the wider health service’.

The union’s medical ethics committee chair Dr Tony Calland said it was lobbying for a change in the Bill so that patients had to give explicit consent for any disclosure of information ‘unless the information has been properly anonymised, pseudonymised or there is an overriding public interest’.

Winter 2010/11 AISMA Doctor Newsline published

January 11, 2011

The Winter 2010/11 issue of AISMA Doctor Newsline, the publication of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants, is published today with a line-up of top writers providing some essential financial and management information for general practice. Kathie Applebee, primary care organisation psychologist, kicks off with some timely advice on preparations for GP-led commissioning and compulsory registration with the Care Quality Commission as practices deal with the burdens of increased financial pressures. Solicitor Andrew Lockhart-Mirams has some words of warning for GPs with provider companies on handling conflicts of interest under the new regime of GP-led commissioning

Bob Senior, AISMA Chairman, says: “Our editor Robin Stride has pulled together a cracking issue with plenty of practical advice for doctors and practice managers who are facing massive challenges over the next 12 months. We know that tax and pension issues continue to be a major concern for GPs so the articles by AISMA accountants Tony Brand and Andrew Goddard should be particularly welcomed.”

AISMA Doctor Newsline is available exclusively to clients of AISMA accountants.

Doctors wishing to contact their local AISMA accountant should go to the Find an Accountant page.

New pension self-assessment form for salaried GPs

October 26, 2010

A new pension self-assessment form for salaried GPs in England and Wales has been finalised by NHS Pensions working in collaboration with PCTs following advice provided by specialist accountancy firm Moore and Smalley. The purpose of the form, which doctors are obliged to complete and send to their PCT or LHB by 28th February 2011, is to collect all information on NHS pay earned by Type 2 medical practitioners during 2009/10. Type 2 doctors include salaried GPs formally employed by a practice, PCT or LHB, long-term fee based GPs working for a GP practice, salaried GPs working for an APMS contractor and GPs who work solely out-of-hours on either an employed or self-employed basis.

Deborah Wood, healthcare services partner at Moore and Smalley and vice-chairman of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants (AISMA), says: “The form has been designed to ensure Type 2 GPs are paying the correct rate of tiered contributions on all their GP pensionable pay. The tiered contribution rules are complex and for salaried GPs with more than one post, completing the self-assessment form could prove particularly onerous.” AISMA is advising doctors to seek guidance from a specialist accountant.

The new form and guidance notes can be found at . Doctors wishing to contact their local AISMA accountant for further advice can find details here.

AISMA members reach £15,000 fundraising target

October 7, 2010

Members of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants have reached their £15,000 fundraising target for independent humanitarian medical aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières. The AISMA Big 15 fundraising challenge, which has been taking place throughout 2010, celebrates the Association’s 15th anniversary and marks 15 years of high quality, specialist accounting services for the medical profession.

AISMA accountants have been organising events throughout the UK, including a gruelling 15km indoor running and rowing challenge undertaken by committee members Luke Bennett and Andrew Johnson at AISMA’s annual conference in May. Other events included sponsored walks and bike rides, together with dress down days, cake sales and quiz nights.

The funds raised by AISMA members will go directly to the Médecins Sans Frontières Amman project in Jordan where surgeons provide complex reconstructive surgery for Iraqi children suffering devastating injuries from the continuing violence across the border.

Head of Fundraising at Médecins Sans Frontières, James Kliffen, says: ‘MSF is a charity close to the hearts of many doctors. We are delighted that AISMA members have reached their £15,000 fundraising target. This is a fantastic achievement.”

AISMA appoints new chairman

May 26, 2010

Members of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants (AISMA) have appointed Bob Senior as their new chairman. He takes over from David Clough who stepped down at this month’s AISMA annual conference after leading the Association for eight years. Mr Senior, who is Director, Medical Services at accountants RSM Tenon, is a highly respected practitioner in the field of specialist medical accountancy. AISMA’s new Vice Chairman is Deborah Wood, head of Healthcare Services at accountants Moore and Smalley.

AISMA, a national network of accountancy firms providing expert advice to medical practices, sessional GPs and hospital doctors, currently has 77 members. Mr Senior comments: “My aim is to help AISMA members drive home the message that GP practices need to improve efficiency if they are to sustain profits in these difficult economic times. Despite government pledges to maintain frontline services, doctors will inevitably feel the pinch as health service cuts begin to bite. Combined with the tax changes that lie ahead doctors are going to be affected, some quite dramatically.”

Under Mr Senior’s leadership, AISMA will continue to work with the BMA to influence policy. He says: “We will play our role in making the government aware of how proposed cuts will translate into reductions in service.”

Doctors wishing to contact their local AISMA member for accountancy advice can find details by clicking here.

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