By Ian Quinn
GP partners in rural areas of the UK earn around £9,000 more on average than those in urban areas, according to official new figures.
The gap has been put down to the fact that so many rural GPs (55.8%) work in dispensing practices, which has boosted their average income level to as much as 25% higher .
Rural GPs earned on average £113,570 before tax in 2007/8, says the NHS Information Centre.
GMS dispensers had a 26.6% higher average income before tax than GMS non-dispensers (£121,753 compared to £96,189) for the period, while PMS dispensers had an average income before tax of 16.5% higher than their non-dispensing counterparts (£132,222 compared to £113,517).
The figures also confirm massive rises in practice expenses led to a real terms pay decrease for GPs.
GP partner income fell by 1.5% in 2007/08 compared with the previous year, with the average partner on a GMS contract earning £100,324.
A 1.9% increase in gross earnings in 2007/08was more than outweighed by a 4.5% increase in expenses.