Intended for healthcare professionals

Career Focus


BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 13 January 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:s20
  1. Bill Irish, general practitioner
  1. Bath ({at}

Managing Money for General Practitioners

Mike Gilbert

Published by Radcliffe Medical Press, 2006, £21.95. 180 pp

ISBN 1 846 19005 3


I am absolutely hopeless with money. I have always taken a perverse pleasure in having “capital,” “fixed assets,” and “balance sheets” patiently explained to me. Yet for me, financial reviews and practice accounts might as well be written in hieroglyphics.

The diagnostic signs of general practitioners clearly heading for financial ruin are distressingly close to home for me: poor time management, small list sizes, inadequate surgery space, and, most scary of all, “GPs who value time off”—it is no wonder that I have only a Honda Civic.

Of course, I envy those GPs and consultants who drive obscenely large Mercedes and seem to own half of the Royal Crescent. Secretly, though, I know that doctors who are mainly motivated by money aren't usually terribly nice people. I suspect that they aren't particularly good doctors. It is difficult to feel deeply about clinical care and get seriously rich.

Let's face it, any book on practice finance is going to be hard going. If you are already heavily into this sort of thing then you probably know it all anyway. If not, the tightly packed text and endless pages of figures in this book will probably induce a moderately intense panic attack. There are contributions from a wide range of different accountants, but interestingly no GPs or practice managers. Through its 16 chapters the authors cover most key aspects of practice finance. Each section is reasonably concise, with helpful worked examples scattered through an otherwise somewhat daunting text. My personal favourite was the last, “A compilation of financial tit bits.” This included topical areas such as stamp duty land tax, which brought on another panic attack, and “capital accounts made easy,” which still wasn't quite easy enough for me.

As with all books on taxation, this book will go out of date quickly. I hope that new editions will be forthcoming on a regular basis.

Having dissected a human body or being able to read an electrocardiogram isn't useful to new partners when they first take financial control of a practice with an annual turnover in the millions. Wrestling their way through this book helps considerably.

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