Outlook for 2013: Huge change awaits healthcare sector

 

Deborah Wood, partner and head of healthcare services at Chiks, gives her outlook for 2013.

 

2013 will be another uncertain year for healthcare businesses and professionals.

 

While the sector is, to a large extent, cushioned by government commitments and existing investment, it will be a year where we start to see the impact of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, the implementation of Clinical Commissioning Groups, and GP revalidation.

 

New GP GMS Contract

 

There are also changes around the proposals for the new GP GMS contract from 2013/14. This will bring a continued expectancy of efficiency savings, as well as equitable funding over seven years from April 2014 for both General Medical Services and Personal Medical Services.

 

There will also be changes to the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) indicators, both in reduced points and harder targets to achieve. All of these changes are going to require innovation, flexibility and collaborative working from healthcare businesses.

 

On top of all of this there are the more general business and payroll changes for healthcare businesses to contend with such as Real Time Information for PAYE and auto-enrolment for pensions.

 

Pensions

 

From a personal point of view, healthcare professionals, especially GPs,  will also have to think even harder about their pension arrangements, following plans announced in the Autumn Statement to reduce the threshold for the annual allowance tax charge from £50,000 to £40,000.

 

To help the sector the government needs to stop moving the goal posts and enable healthcare businesses to operate with fewer sticks and more carrots. I also believe government should consider how healthcare businesses can recover the input VAT they are charged on business expenses directly incurred in providing NHS healthcare services. NHS trusts and similar entities such as the new CCGs are being given the ability to do this, but other core NHS businesses such as GP practices are not.

 

Be flexible

 

My advice to healthcare professionals in 2013 is to know what your business does well and do more of it. Understand your cost base, capacity and available resources in order to deploy them to maximise profitable revenue streams. Be flexible to adapt quickly in response to the changes that are on the way.

 

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