As workloads in the NHS increase and income falls, there are certainly some attractions to private practice, but if you plan on doing this there are certain rules and guidelines that you must follow.
The things that practices are allowed to charge patients for are set out in Section 5 of the 2004 GMS Contracts. This states that you can charge patients for certain services that are not available on the NHS, but not for primary medical services or services covered by the contract.
Some doctors who act as locums, and do not have a registered list of patients that they normally treat, consider that they are not contractors so should be able to treat any patients privately.
As a private practitioner in England you need to register with the CQC.
You may, of course, carry out work for a company, such as Skype services, but the company will already have CQC registration. There is an advantage to this as the company will provide you with patients, and you get a steady income.
As a private practitioner you still need to be appraised annually to be revalidated by the GMC. If you are doing both NHS and private work, you will need to complete NHS appraisal forms as well as validation from your private work. If you are entirely private, you still need to undertake an appraisal, but you will have to organise this yourself. Hence one has to analyse different advantages and dis-advantages of doing both NHS as well as private practice before doing it. They just need to check the guidelines laid down by the concerned authority for working for NHS as well as doing a private practise. Also one has to check that there shouldn’t be conflict of interest when doing both.
Of course, for private work – unless it is for another company – you also have a lot of time-consuming "office management" to undertake. Running a practice entails the need of a diary schedule for booking, viewing, and possibly editing or cancelling appointments. You obviously have to set up a system for recording all of your patients’ records, tests, results, and so on, and all of this can take up time.
Equally importantly, you have to take steps to ensure that you get paid! So you need an accounting system that will produce invoices, send them out, and also chase up patients whose bills are not paid on time. There is a lot more admin that is required in running a private practice, too.
Fortunately, today you will find that there are companies which provide practice management software that can considerably reduce the amount of time that you would have to spend doing things manually. Much of this practice management software will let you do things with a couple of clicks, so it is well worth investigating to find out how much time it can save you that you could be spending with patients and earning fees rather than being deskbound.