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Jump in expenses pushes GP partners' income down

The predicted squeeze in practice finances has been confirmed as the latest figures from the NHS Information Centre showed GP income shrank by 2.1%, with GMS GPs hardest hit.

The figures show GP partners took home an average of £107,667 in 2006/07, compared with £110,004 in 2005/06.

The fall came as average expenses in 2006/07 rose to £139,694 an increase of 3.5% since 2005/06.

This has pushed the GP expenses to earnings ratio to 56.5%, an increase of 1.4 percentage points from the 2005/06 expenses to earnings ratio of 55.1%.

Those working under a GMS contract saw a steeper fall in average income with a drop in of 2.6% in 2006/07, compared with the previous year. The average pay for GMS partners was £103,530.

PMS GPs had a 1.5% pay decrease from 2005/06 to 2006/07, with figures showing an average pay of £118,499.

The average income before tax for salaried GPs in 2006/07 was £53,940.

The figures also showed that dispensing GPs' income before tax dropped less than their non-dispensing counterparts.

On average, dispensing GP partners earned £126,996 in 2006/07, down 0.1% on the previous year, while non-dispensing GPs earned £104,093 in the same year, down 2.4% on figures from 2005/06.

Overall, 41% of GPs had an income before tax of between £100,000 and £150,000 in 2006/07, down from 43% the year before. In contrast, 40% had an income of between £50,000 and £100,000, up from 36% in 2005/06.

Just 258 GPs (0.8%) had an income of at least £250,000, down from 307 (0.9%) in 2005/06.

Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the GPC, said: 'The new contract was brought in to address a GP recruitment crisis - new doctors didn't want to be GPs because the pay was the worst in Europe and the working hours were unsustainable. Now we're seeing GP income falling because the government has tried to claw back this money.

'Practice resources were frozen for three years, yet our expenses, which includes giving our staff proper pay rises, have been steadily increasing. As these figures are for 2006 - 2007 we expect this fall in GP income to be a trend that continues.'

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