AIR Fee Survey - OverviewVERVIEW

AIR (Association of Independent Radiologists) has recently undertaken a fee survey in both private hospitals and private NHS units. Fees for 16 radiological procedures, including X-ray, ultrasound, CT and MRI were surveyed and the responses showed considerable differences. In the NHS private units the consultants earn on average 27.1 % of the total radiology charge and the hospital 72.9 % for this basket of procedures. However in the private hospitals consultants earn on average 18.9 % of the total radiology charge and the hospital 81.1 %. There is, however, a difference in the number of consultants working in these two sectors (with almost double generally working in private hospital units). There is probably also a greater volume of work in the private hospitals although there was no data on this from the survey. Nevertheless it was evident there existed wide variations in consultants' fees throughout the sector and charges would appear to vary by up to a factor of three. The general idea that radiologists should earn 33 % of the total charge was obviously untrue.

As radiologists' fees are bundled into the overall hospital charge the radiologists must negotiate fees with the hospital. This is a marker for the way in which other consultants, including those in surgical specialties, may possibly have to act in the future. There could well be a need for professional negotiators to act on behalf of local consultants (chambers, partners) as the radiologists’ survey has shown that some inexperienced consultant groups were doing far worse than others were in fee negotiations.

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