Although quoted periodically in the national press, the NERA report, which suggested that British Consultants are paid more than their contemporaries aboard, has now been refuted. In a detailed economic analysis produced by the British Medical Association (BMA) Health Policy and Economic Research Unit it is been pointed out that the systems of healthcare in the overseas areas chosen by the NERA researchers were inappropriate. Essentially the NERA report is comparing apples with oranges and quite apart from the differences in general prices, taxation and economies it is inappropriate to compare consultants’ earnings in a nationalised or government sponsored healthcare system with those in a fee paying service.
FIPO has always stated that consultants should charge fair and reasonable fees but has not been alone in pointing out that patients’ insurance reimbursements for consultant fees have remained virtually frozen over the last 10 to 12 years despite rising premiums and hospital prices. It is true to say that some reimbursements for more complex and less common procedures have been increased, although it has to be made clear that consultant’s fees are not set by insurance companies.
The advent of the National Tariff and the increased opportunities for NHS contract work in the independent sector may exert downward pressure on fees and at the moment the extent of this is difficult to predict. There is evidence from the MORI poll commissioned by FIPO that expenses of private practice are rising (click here for MORI Poll results).
In addition, some established accountants dealing with medical practitioners have alluded to rising expenses in the medical press. The broad economic circumstances faced by consultants in the independent sector has been summarised in two short reviews by two leading accountants and can be found here: