By Sophie Borland And Rebecca Evans
Last updated at 10:26 PM on 18th November 2011
A GP is running a healthcare company that makes almost £2million a year, it emerged yesterday.
The astonishing profit is made by Ravi Gupta through DMC Healthcare, which operates surgeries and clinics across south-east England.
He is one of a new breed of ‘super GPs’ raking in huge amounts of NHS cash by offering extra treatments.
Earlier this month the Mail revealed a family doctor in Kent was earning more than £770,000 a year. Dr Gupta refused to confirm whether it was him.
However his company DMC Healthcare, which runs surgeries in Kent, last year made a profit of nearly £1.8million.
He divides his time between treating patients and working as joint managing director of the company alongside his brother Anil, who is an accountant. They are the only shareholders.
The 46-year-old lives with his family in a six-bedroom mansion in South London, thought to be worth around £2million.
Critics yesterday labelled him a ‘self-styled chief executive’ rather than a family doctor. Vijayakar Abrol, a GP from Edgbaston in Birmingham, said: ‘In my book they are failed doctors who have lost all pride in their professional capacity and capability.
‘It seems to me that some of these high earners think and feel themselves as CEO of the surgeries.’
He raised concerns about GPs ‘scheming for their next million’ and questioned whether they would be able to provide the best standard of care.
Patients at one of the surgeries that Dr Gupta owns and works at have described it as appalling. One wrote on the NHS Choices website of waiting two or three weeks for an appointment.
Another said they had seen receptionists treating vulnerable patients with ‘apathetic disrespect’.
Other patients described the surgery as excellent and said they would recommend it to their friends.
When the Mail tried to make a patient’s appointment to see Dr Gupta we were kept hanging on the line for eight and a half minutes before being put through to a receptionist.
She told us it would be very difficult to see Dr Gupta as he was only ‘randomly’ in the surgery and tended to ‘call up and say when he wanted to work’. Increasing numbers of GPs are expected to set up firms and take over other surgeries in search of profits.
Alan Maynard, a professor in health economics at York University, said these firms would save money by replacing doctors with nurses wherever possible.
‘The tendency will be for these companies to get bigger. Doctors will be more attracted to this as a way of developing care,’ he said.
Dr Gupta set up DMC Healthcare in 2008 and initially it ran one surgery – Dulwich Medical Centre, in south-east London – after which the company takes its name.
It has since expanded and taken over seven practices.
The firm also runs a van – dubbed a mobile treatment centre and staffed by nurses – that travels through Kent and Essex offering blood tests, contraception and monitoring for asthma and diabetes.
Most of the practices run by the company earn extra NHS cash by providing services that aren’t available at ordinary surgeries. These include travel vaccinations, inserting contraceptive implants, tests for sexually transmitted disease and treatment for wounds.
There are believed to be a handful of other super GPs earning very high salaries by running similar companies.
Figures obtained by the Mail reveal that one family doctor in Birmingham is earning £660,000 a year while another in Essex is on £412,000.
The average GP earns just under £106,000 a year, according to recent data published by the NHS Information Centre.
Their pay has risen considerably since 2004 thanks to a new deal negotiated by Labour.
It enabled them to top up their earnings by meeting certain targets based on treatments they provided and also allowed them to opt out of working evenings and weekends.
Dr Gupta refused to comment on his earnings or his company when approached by the Mail.