Pay gap dividing general practice
By Gareth Iacobucci
The gulf in pay between salaried GPs and partners appears to be widening amid fears general practice is becoming a divided profession, writes By Gareth Iacobucci.
In 2005/6, GP partners' pay rose by 10%, whereas the pay of salaried GPs went up by only 3%, according to the latest figures from the Information Centre.
In a sample of 17,581 GPs, the average net profit for GMS GPs increased by 9.8% from £103,564 to £110,004 between 2004/5 and 2005/6.
In contrast, the average earning of a salaried GP – a category which now makes up 15% of GPs according to the BMA – rose in the same period from £45,560 to £46,900, based on non-partners working a 24-hour week.
Medical accountants calculate full-time partners now earn £24,000 more than their salaried equivalent (see box).
The figures are being viewed as indicative of a widening gap between partners and salaried GPs.
Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chief executive of the National Association of Non-Principals, claimed practices were ‘not particularly good' when it came to employing salaried GPs.
‘It's obvious practices have a huge concern the Government is going to be pulling money back, so they're holding on to as much as they can,' he said.
Dr Suraj Sharma, a salaried GP in Liverpool, went further, saying salaried GPs were being ‘exploited more year on year'.
‘The clinical workload and level of responsibility is the same. Salaried GPs should be paid as much as partners.'
But Dr Mary Hawking, a GP in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, questioned the validity of the figures, and said salaried GPs were being paid fairly in accordance with GMS contracts.
‘Salaried GPs come in, do what they're contracted to do and go home, and the partners have everything that's left over. There is guidance on the contract and what you pay salaried GPs. I think that is pretty well followed.'
But Dr David Barrett, a salaried GP in Coventry who was recently offered a partner-ship, said some practices were failing to use contracts and creating a ‘two-tier system' that exploited salaried GPs.
‘Some salaried GPs are without contracts even in GMS practices. There seems to be a widespread practice of salaried GPs working way over 37.5 hours a week if full-time, without additional remuneration, and that is where we see a pay disparity.'Are there two tiers of GP pay?
The average GP partner will earn £24,000 more than a salaried GP in the current financial year, after pension contributions, according to accountants.
Sandison Easson said the average GP partner will take home £90,000 a year whereas average pay for their salaried equivalent was £66,000.
But partner Alan Thomson believed the pay difference might actually not be enough. ‘Some GPs think it is not worth the hassle for the additional responsibility.
‘Principals' income is staying the same but the costs are rising. Salaried GPs enjoy inflationary increases – if they are on £70,000 now, they might rise to £72,500 if inflation goes up 2.5%, but partners lose 2.5%.'