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Scottish GPs' pay falls further behind English

The pay gap between GPs in England and Scotland is widening, new figures indicate.

The pay gap between GPs in England and Scotland is widening, new figures indicate.

Data from medical accountants Dodd & Co showed GPs in England earned almost £18,000 more than their Scottish counterparts in 2005.

GPs in England took home an average of £111,921 in the year to March 2005, up by 21.3 per cent. Pay for GPs in Scotland rose 20.8 per cent to £94,068 over the same period.

The figures meant GPs north of the border earned 15.1 per cent less, up from 9.7 per cent in 2003/4. The gap stems from the fact Scottish GPs, with an average list of 1,489, have around 340 fewer patients

But it has grown wider despite the fact practices in Scotland scored more quality points on average.

Overall income per partner for the 58 English practices in the survey was £245,681, up 8.7 per cent. In the 10 Scottish practices covered, each GP brought in £228,579, a 7.3 per cent rise.

But expenditure per partner rose more quickly in Scotland, with a 2.8 per cent increase compared with 2.3 per cent in England.

GPs and medical accountants predicted the pay gap could widen further as a result of the freeze in global sums and quality point rewards.

Helen Thornley, a senior accountant at Dodd & Co, based in Penrith, Cumbria, said GPs' new contracts accentuated the difference between English and Scottish practices because they benefited GPs with larger lists.

She said singlehanders had the highest take-home pay, followed by larger practices.

She said: 'All singlehanders have done spectacularly well. A lot have put all their locum work through their practice and are prepared to work all hours.'

Dr David Love, joint-chair of the Scottish GPC, said Scottish practices had lagged English ones 'almost forever'. He said: 'My fear for next year is that it may well widen. We are not sure whether the promised additional investment will actually appear.'

Dr Brian Keighley, a GP in Balfron, Stirlingshire, said it was wrong that GPs in Scotland may be delivering a better service but were not getting rewarded for it.

He said: 'The new contract has been a success on both sides of the border but relatively more successful for England.'

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