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Book review: Finance Aspects for Medical Doctors, 2022 Edition

Andrew Papanikitas is Deputy Editor of the BJGP and a GP in Oxford. He is on twitter: @gentlemedic

Can any guide to financial aspects of medical practice from the doctor’s perspective ever claim to be ‘friendly?’ Prior to reading this book, I must confess that IR35, ITEPA, ITOIA, and ITA might as well have been robots in the latest Star Wars miniseries on Disney-Plus.

While the meaning of these pieces of financial regulation is only hinted at by the author — these regulations exist and therefore we need to manage how and what we earn accordingly — Finance Aspects for Medical Doctors is a general set of notes on NHS funding, accounting, and tax implications as they affect doctors.

Both hospital doctors and GPs are included. The book collects an up-to-date set of facts about things such as what a set of practice accounts should include and what doctors who are directly or self-employed can claim as expenses. It clarifies things that seem odd, such as the difference between a junior and senior doctor — odd because you might expect doctors to know this.

“Can any guide to financial aspects of medical practice from the doctor’s perspective ever claim to be ‘friendly?'”

On the other hand, the distinctions between ‘self-employed’ and ’employee’ are covered and crucial, especially for locum doctors. This is crucial because of the ‘gig economy’, which affects salaried and locum doctors alike. Legislation currently offers some protection from exploitation, such as the practice of hiring on a long-term basis without a substantive contract or protections — the downside of the ‘gig economy’. This, however, has a flip-side edge for the locum who spends too much time working for one practice — both the locum and practice are expected to move to pay arrangement with loss of advantages for both.

The author is an accountant and tax advisor, and the publisher’s website (http://www.pkabooks.com) advertises both the author’s books and accountancy services. Other books available through the website offer advice on accounting for general medical practitioners, taxation aspects for medical doctors, and taxation aspects for dentists.

This book benefits in having up-to-date summaries without the reader having to comb through apocryphal online guidance on the HMRC website, and gives examples of a set of accounts. As the Chair of Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants states in the endorsement, ‘Details are considered on ways to effectively minimise tax liabilities and utilise available reliefs, together with considering options for incorporation’.

However, the book only goes part of the way to address the learning needs of doctors in this area. While being written for doctors, a future edition or perhaps a beginner’s manual could really benefit from clearer problem-oriented sections through the perspective of the financially naïve doctor.

“There is a real lack of help for doctors in managing the financial aspects of medical work. This book is a step in the right direction … “

Just by switching between salaried, locum, and partner roles, or taking on non-NHS work, GPs can become beginners at any point in their career. Recent history has even seen retiring doctors having to work out whether it was financially punitive to continue in work.

The question for most financially conscious GPs is whether to invest £31.69 in this book or spend an hour gathering a dossier of up-to-date advice from government websites, GP magazines, and financial advice services. I certainly remember books like this being offered as corporate gifts at conferences by medical organisations — free at point of use. An updatable e-book version of this at a lower price-point would certainly be welcome.

The unique selling point of this book is in essence that it has been curated by an expert. There is a real lack of help for doctors in managing the financial aspects of medical work. This book is a step in the right direction, more steps are needed before we get from helpful to friendly.

Featured Book: M Bashir Khatri, Finance Aspects for Medical Doctors, PKA Books Limited, 2022, PB, 108pp, £31.69, 978-0953451661

Featured image: Photo taken by Andrew Papanikitas, 2022.

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