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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

GP earnings rise by 2.5% as expenses hit 'record high', reveals new data

The average earnings across all types of GPs in the UK increased by 2.5% last year, while expenses have reached a record high, new figures appear to have shown. 

The yearly publication from NHS Digital for 2017/18 claimed the average GP partner earned £109,100 before tax - a 'statistically significant' 3.5% increase from 2016/17 - while the average income for salaried GPs rose by 2.9%, from £56,800 to £58,400.

However, GP leaders suggested this could be as a result of the declining number of GPs to share the funding being put into general practice after figures today revealed the number of fully qualified full-time equivalent (FTE) GPs in England has fallen by 2% since June 2018.

The data also showed that GP partners' expenses rose by 7%, to £217,500, with the proportion of earnings being spent on expenses hitting 'a record high', the BMA said. 

Overall, the average earnings for all GPs across the UK increased by 2.5% to £94,800. 

As part of the new five-year contract for general practice, staff, including GPs, received a 2% pay uplift to cover their pay and expenses.   

The introduction of a multi-year contract for GPs meant the Doctors and Dentists Remuneration Review Body (DDRB) decided not to make recommendations on their pay this year.  

NHS Digital statistics showed that the ratio of expenses to earnings, which represents the proportion of gross earnings taken up by expenses, was 66.6% in 2017/18 - an 0.8% point increase since 2016/17.

The report said: 'Since 2005/06, expenses have been increasing at a faster rate than income before tax for GPMS contractor GPs in the UK, resulting in an expenses to earnings ratio which has grown each year.'

BMA GP Committee executive team member Dr Krishna Kasaraneni said the data highlights 'the significant financial burden' associated with the management of a practice.

He said: 'Today’s figures suggest that years of repeated, real-terms pay cuts for GPs are starting to be reversed.

'However, while earnings may have gone up, the number of doctors continues to fall, with the NHS in England losing more than 800 partners alone over the same period. As patient demand rises and the workforce gets smaller, GPs are taking on more work – often in excess of their contracted hours. This places a huge amount of strain on GPs, who are putting their own health and wellbeing at risk to ensure their patients get the best care possible.

He added: 'These statistics also highlight the significant financial burden that comes with running a practice, with the proportion of overall earnings going towards practice expenses reaching a record high.

'With a recent BMA survey finding that half of practice buildings are not suitable to meet current needs, it’s no surprise to see that the cost of premises continues to be one of the biggest outgoings for partners, underlining why central investment is urgently needed to bring facilities up-to-date and ensure practice teams can deliver the best possible care for everyone.'

Last year, average earnings across all types of GP increased by nearly 3%, with GP partners seeing a 4% salary increase after expenses

Readers' comments (8)

  • Is earnings a synonym for profit in this case for partners?

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  • Not at all clear what 'earnings' means. If that is the average, there must be a few GPs somewhere earning over £ 200,000 to counterbalance local earnings around here!

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  • Please show what a FTE partner takes home after tax (including tax on pension growth), pension (employers and employees contributions), defence subs, GMC BMA RCGP membership, and loan costs to buy share of building. That would be more meaningful (and not so easy to talk up). £109K is completely misleading imho.

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  • Drop in FTE Partners is actually the most telling.From personal experience we know what the loss of a Partner means - our [taxable] earnings went up [Great?]. unfortunately our ability to manage the practice went down and has now been [taken over] merged. Roll on last man standing... but watch out for the tax bill.

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  • Does any one wants to earn over £150 K considering the punitive tax?

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  • 110K gross as average for a partner? Locums can earn this on a three day week
    Talk about being shafted
    I would want at least twice that amount to be a partner

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  • I hate that any of this gets reported as a rise. It really just matched inflation so we are just standing still and the increased pension charges are a pay cut but hard to explain that to the average man on the street.

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  • Maybe some unpopular replies here:

    MANDY DINGLE
    - The 113k figure is the average for a partner, who is working an average of 3.5 sessions/ week. Many people find partnership work much more enjoyable than being a locum. Importantly partnership income is much more variable.
    You are in a sense correct, I would want almost twice that to be a partner - which is exactly what happens.

    Anonymouse3 - you are right - there are plenty of people earning a lot more than the average. If you look a the profit bands in the raw data some 15% earn above 150k and 4% above 200k. These percentages are of ALL GPs not just full time/ 9 session GPs and are reported clear profit after all expenses including indemnity, but before tax.

    I think the hidden understanding behind these figures often prevents talented GPs from becoming partners - particularly in comparison to being a locum. But the highest earning GPs are still partners, not locums. My partners and I earn more per session than a locum (albeit probably work a harder/ busier session).

    My apparent happiness of partnership income in comparison to locum income does not change the overall picture. In real terms partnership income is 30+k/ year less than it was in 2006 - and it is not increasing according to these figures. Although I think partnership income will increase over the next few years it (just a guess!) is not going to bridge the 30k drop anytime soon.

    Anyone asking why it is so hard to get a GP partner or GP appointment must be pointed in the direction of a 30k drop in real terms earnings.

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