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A faulty production line

'UK GPs among best paid in developed countries', OECD report claims

UK GPs were the best-rewarded primary care doctors in Europe in 2011 and earned more than their counterparts in Australia and Canada, according to new figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The OECD’s ‘Health at a Glance’ report, which reviewed key health indicators across 34 OECD member countries and key emerging countries, claimed that GP partners in the UK earned 3.4 times the average national wage. This compared favourably with Australia, where GPs earned 1.7 times the average wage, while those in Ireland, Canada and the Netherlands earned three times the average, the figures show.

However, GP leaders said that these figures were not ‘comparing like for like’ and UK GPs had far greater duties than generalists in other countries.

The OECD found that the income of self-employed GPs in the UK rose sharply following the implementation of the GP contract in 2004. GPs in the UK, Poland and Denmark were the only ones to earn more than the average hospital specialist.

The report said: ‘In many OECD countries, the income gap between general practitioners and specialists has widened over the past decade, reducing the financial attractiveness of general practice.’

UK salaried GPs earned 1.9 times the average wage, the figures showed.

However, Dr Peter Swinyard, the chair of the Family Doctors Association and a GP in Swindon, said that the comparison between GPs in different countries was unfair.

He said: ‘[The figures are] not comparing like with like. If you look across Europe, or the OECD countries, the job of a GP is very different in different countries and different cultures.’

‘We do an awful lot more chronic and acute disease management than GPs in other countries will do, so the job is broader in its scope and responsibilities than it is in other countries, where they’re basically more of a sorting house where they either send everyone off to a hospital or wipe their snotty nose. So it’s a different job, and you’re comparing two different jobs.’


 

Readers' comments (36)

  • The comparison to the average wage is meaningless because GPs do many more hours than the average worker.

    3.4 times the average wage sounds good until you factor in a 60 hour week. That reduces it to 2.23 times the average wage. Not a very healthy pay off for the years of study of some of our brightest students. With many doctors being women they will not have an incentive to stay working if they cannot afford to pay for their childcare.

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  • Somehow I don't think so. We keep getting told how much GP's make but the reality so different I suspect this is just PR to stop the drain.
    Also GP's in other counties don't do so many hours, can generally act with impunity, are not answerable to the GMC, don't have to manage patient huge expectation with limited NHS resources and don't have to see 50 patients each day, Also in many OECD countries GP's can do lucrative private work and if not like in France they will charge patients directly for referrals (cash in hand or no referral).

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  • "Also GP's in other counties don't do so many hours... and don't have to see 50 patients each day"

    Actually I think you'll find that "the report shows that patients consult their doctor less often in the UK. The average person in the UK sees a doctor around five times a year – while the average for all OECD countries is between six and seven times. As a result doctors in the UK see fewer patients per year than the average in the OECD countries."

    And many European doctors still do their own out of hours for their own lists unlike in the UK.

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  • Absolute PR trash....even assuming this claim is true.....Aus Gp has no QOF, Home visits, Tel consult and appt for even blood results or bp checks!!!
    Like it or not GP s r leaving in herds as evidenced by good standing requests to the GMC this year...choice is ours

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  • The job is stressful, but a GP partner still earns more than the average hospital consultant and more than GPs in other countries. This is an undeniable fact. What salaried partners earn may be vastly less of course.

    And certainly locally, there is not a single GP principal who works more than a four-day week - and many, many only do two or three. Even given that the days they work are long ones, it still doesn't add up to anywhere near as much as the average consultant works.

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  • I wonder why there are no plane loads of Aussie Docs queuing up to work here ?

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  • We can expect a massive influx of our overseas colleagues to solve the impending recruitment crisis . Thank goodness for that then . I wonder how the actual disposable income compares . Once you deduct mortgage ,tax and pension and gas there's F all left.

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  • Look at adverts for jobs in Alberta, Perth,

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  • Irrelevant article. Everyone knows UK general practice is dying on its feet and soon to be privatized at which point wages will go up massively.

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  • 8.34 Er - have you not noticed how many overseas doctors work in the NHS - both in primary and secondary care?

    The latest estimate is that 1 in 3 doctors trained abroad, and this group includes European, Antipodean, Asian and African doctors (maybe not that many American ones). Presumably they come for the pay and conditions, as let's face it, it can't be for the climate!

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  • And.....?
    Lets decrease the pay until GPs are working out of sheds if independent or in supermarkets if not.
    Most GPs I know deserve to be paid highly.
    Stuff OOH and weekends to, leave that to emergency level cover so that in hours doctors are fit, refreshed and ready to do their best, instead of knackered. Those who remember pre- coops and 2004 do not have rose tinted specs about it.

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  • 8.55 Actually having worked with a lot of them (some very good indeed) overseas doctors come for a variety of reasons. Often their own economy doesn't have the jobs or quality training to support them. Many people like the culture in the UK which despite the hassle is still an exciting place to live. Clearly some will earn more but the cost of living is vastly more in the UK than comparable western countries like Canada and New Zealand where I promise you the quality of life is far higher. The problem with this article is that the statistics given are rather crude. For example, the average wage may be proportionally higher elsewhere and UK GPs face costs that simply don't exist in other places such as paying their own national insurance and the extraordinary cost of UK housing which wipes out most of the gains at a stroke. There are just too many confounding factors here for this to be taken seriously but what we do need to take seriously is the declining proportion of resources for UK primary care and the inevitable consequences of this.

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  • Stopped reading this article when they admitted - not comparing like for like.
    That phrase seems to have been omitted form the title !!

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  • We know GPs earn more in Republic of Ireland and Australia (pulse published figures earlier this year) so what the differential really shows is how scandalously low the average wage is in the UK!!!

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  • Well, take home pay of £3.00 per consultation. Oh yes, we are the best paid indeed!! Speaking to a GP from Belgium. His income, before tax is 14000 euros a month. Best paid indeed. It is 50 euro to see a GP in Eire. Of course, this is why everyone is leaving Australia to work here.

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  • Anonymous 2.34 am said :

    "Actually I think you'll find that "the report shows that patients consult their doctor less often in the UK. The average person in the UK sees a doctor around five times a year – while the average for all OECD countries is between six and seven times. As a result doctors in the UK see fewer patients per year than the average in the OECD countries."

    That conclusion is wrong because we have have fewer doctors per head of population compared to the OECD average. That is why we are so overworked and stressed .

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  • Dear Dr Sanghera,

    Thank you for your time on the phone last week. I’ve copied some brief information on my roles in Australia below so that you can forward it to any of your friends or colleagues that may be interested.

    Please find below some preliminary info on Australia and the roles I’m currently recruiting for.

    My client is one of the largest suppliers of Primary healthcare in Australia and has opportunities in close proximity to Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

    They offer a capital payment to all doctors, calculated by the number of hours you do and the centre you go to. This one off payment is between $270,000 (£182,000) and $500,000 (£337,000). You will receive 10% - 15% up front on day and the remaining amount after 12 months – the commitment it to a 5 year contract.

    The average annual income for GP’s working for this company ranges from $200,000 - $350,000 (£135,000- £236,000) per annum – it’s a fee for service system, so your income is a reflection of the GPs skill set and ability to build a successful practice and the hours worked.
    This was an email I got from a cold call
    If only I was younger!

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  • I actually think UK GPs are quite poorly paid when you consider the vast sums paid in defense costs and the small number of doctors per capita. We should be asking for a lot more.

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  • I think this article should be titled, "Low Average Wage in UK compared to other developed countries". If you view it from this perspective then yes GPs do earn more than the "Average UK pay". However my colleagues who have gone to Australia or Canada are not coming back any time soon after reading this article. I can not go due to family commitments otherwise I would have as well.

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  • what a rubbish and irrelevant Article making a headline!
    One must not compare the Gps income with national average income as it is a specialized work and also for long hours. There is no comparison at all.
    Secondly the Gps in Australia, Canada are earning 1.5 -2 time more than a Uk Gp. Thats why no one come from Australia or canada or USA to work here as a GP but other way round.
    On the contrary Gps are still less paid for the amount of work they do and the stress they bear.
    Article like this is to create a false impression about Gps pay.

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