Starting a Healthcare Business in the UK

With public healthcare services currently under strain and experiencing a multitude of dilemmas, many medical practitioners are looking to set-up their own private practices. If you are considering starting your own healthcare business in the UK, there are several areas that will require careful consideration and planning. This includes the following.

The Legal Formation of Your Business

The first key step you will need to consider when setting up a healthcare business is the type of entity you wish to form. There are four main types of business structures in the UK with differing tax and liability implications: sole trader, partnership, limited liability partnership or limited company.

If you plan on operating entirely on your own, then setting up as a sole trader is the easiest way to get started. If your plans involve in hiring other staff, opening a clinic or healthcare facility of some kind, then it’s advisable to consult with a law firm that specialises in company formations and start-ups.

Ideally you want to look for a firm that has experience dealing with other medical and health related businesses, as they will be able to advise on compliance and governance matters specific to the industry. In addition, you will need to hire an accountant who can handle your accounts in line with the regulations for the type of entity you have chosen to form.

Registration With Healthcare Regulators

It is illegal to operate many types of healthcare businesses without permission from the necessary regulatory bodies within the UK. Dependent on the type of business you are looking to set-up, you may need to register and comply with the requirements of organisations such as the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory AgencyGeneral Medical Council and/or the General Dental Council. There may be other regulatory bodies that you must legally register with to operate. Again, a law firm specialising on company formations, with experience in the healthcare sector, will be able to advise you on this front.

Developing a Business Plan and Obtaining Funding

Developing a clear business plan is vital to both the long-term prosperity of your company as well as your chances of securing funding to cover your start-up costs. Your business plan will need to outline projected turnover alongside the costs for driving new business, such as the development of your website, marketing collateral and advertising activities. You will need to assess what specialist equipment and technology is required to get you started and include accurate costs for acquiring it.

“You will likely struggle to get the funding that you need to start your business without a solid business plan” says Jamie Barwell, who set-up his own healthcare business, Southwest Veins, to treat patients with varicose vein problems. “So, make sure you have a clear plan outlined before approaching your bank” says Jamie.

Contracting With Patients, Clinicians And Third Parties

It’s vital to have legally binding agreements in place to protect you in the event of any issues you might encounter whilst operating, particularly when it comes to patients. Issues such as consent, duty of care and handling of patient information are particularly important areas that, again, a specialist law firm can advise you on.

If you are planning on setting up a practice that will involve hiring other clinicians and support staff, you will need to ensure that the law firm you consult with can handle all matters related to employment law. A firm with this type of experience will also be able to assist you with preparing agreements between your company and third-party healthcare providers, or other suppliers such as web developers and marketing firms.

Considering The Legal Requirements of Working With The NHS

If you are planning on offering services to the NHS, then your agreement with them is likely to be subject to public contract regulations and procurement law. If this is the case then be sure to make this cleat to the law firm that you consult with, as they will be able to guide you through public procurement regulations and assist you in the formation of your bid for a contract, if necessary.

Compliance With Data Protection Regulations

Failure to comply with the GDPR as well as any other applicable data protection laws (dependent on where and how you operate the business) could result in very costly fines. If you are planning on providing services to the NHS, you will also need to comply with their rules on data handling, particularly the NHS Data Security and Protection Toolkit.

Opening Your Clinic or Healthcare Facility

Choosing an appropriate location, building, and ensuring the premises can accommodate the needs of the business will be key early-stage decisions. You will also need to check that the premises meets the standards set for healthcare businesses in the UK.

Protecting Your Intellectual Property

Smaller healthcare start-ups often overlook the importance of establishing ownership of their products, services, and brand identity. Be sure to consider how you will protect your trademarks, design registrations and patents. Again, a specialist law firm with experience in business formations will be able to guide you on this.