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GP partners’ pay decreases as expenses increase

Authors: Helen Jaques 

Publication date:  10 Nov 2011


The pay of general practice partners in the United Kingdom has dropped by 4% over the past five years as gross income has fallen and expenses have risen, official data from the NHS Information Centre show.

The average take home income before tax for general practitioner contractors decreased from £110 000 in 2005-6 to £105 700 in 2009-10, equivalent in real terms to an annual percentage decrease of 1.4% a year over this period.

Although investment in general practice was 7.4% higher in 2009-10 than in 2005-6, the real terms average gross income for GP contractors fell from £272 067 in 2005-6 to £262 700 in 2009-10.

Expenses were up 5% in real terms over this period, and the proportion of gross income taken up by expenses rose to 60% in 2009-10 from 55% five years ago.

Average pay for salaried GPs rose by 1.2% from £57 300 in 2008-9 to £58 000 in 2009-10. When partnered and salaried GPs’ earnings are taken together, however, average income before tax for all GPs has fallen by 0.3% since 2008-9.

Many GPs believe their pay could continue to decrease over the next few years, according to responses to the BMA’s 2011 survey of GP opinion. More than half (58%) of the 18 757 GPs surveyed by the association expected their income to decrease in 2010-11, and nearly three quarters (72%) expected earnings to drop in 2011-12 (BMJ Careers, 25 Oct, http://careers.bmj.com/careers/advice/view-article.html?id=20005144).

The NHS Information Centre collected information on earnings and expenses from all full time and part time UK contractor GPs and salaried GPs who submitted a self assessment tax return to HM Revenue and Customs for the financial year ending 5 April 2010.

These data show that GPs in England—partners and salaried combined—had the highest average income at £99 200, whereas those in Scotland had the lowest salary in 2009-10 at £86 400.

Within England, the average salary for all GPs was lowest in the South West (£83 200) but had fallen by up to 3% on 2008-9 pay in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, East Midlands, East of England, London, and South Central regions. Partners in the South West, along with those in London, had the highest expenses, comprising on average 63% of gross income.

GPs on a personal medical services (PMS) contract had higher pay than those on a general medical services (GMS) contract (£100 800 versus £94 900), and GPs in rural practices earned more than those in cities (£100 900 versus £96 400), largely because so many rural practices are dispensing practices (51% versus 6%).

Helen Jaques news reporter BMJ Careers

 hjaques@bmj.com

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