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Salaried GPs earn little more than physician associates, official figures reveal

GP partners’ earnings dropped for the eight year in a row in 2013/14, with salaried GPs earning £54,600 a year, only 9% more than physician associates, official figures released today have revealed.

In the annual GP Earnings and Expenses 2013/14 report by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, combined partner and salaried GPs’ earnings before tax was £90,200, a drop of 2.9% on 2012/13 levels.  

GP partners’ pay fell by 2.2% to £99,800 before employers’ superannuation costs were taken into account, having decreased every year since a peak of £110,000 in 2005/06, the year after new contracting arrangements were introduced.

The average income for a salaried GP was £54,600 – only 9% more than the £50,000 being offered to physician associates with two years’ training.

GP leaders said it was ‘no wonder’ young doctors were shunning general practice.

The gross earnings for combined GMP and PMS partners actually increased by 0.7%, to £273,600.

However, this was more than offset by a 2.4% rise in the cost of expenses, to £173,800.

The figures are the first since the imposition of the 2013/14 contract, which phased out MPIG payments, increased QOF thresholds and discontinued the QOF organisational domain, worth £164m for practices.

In the same year, the Government awarded a 1.3% funding uplift, after health secretary Jeremy Hunt rejected the recommendation from the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) for a 2.29% uplift.

According to the report, the average income for salaried GPs in the UK was £54,600 in 2013/14 compared with £56,400 in 2012/13, representing a decrease of 3.3%.

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the GPC, said the figures ‘provide yet more evidence of the growing financial pressures faced by general practice’.

He added: ‘With two thirds of a practice’s income being used on the basics of keeping a practice afloat, including paying for rising costs for utilities, building upkeep and vital staff such as receptionists and nurses, there is nothing left to develop effective patient services that meet patient’s growing needs.

‘The decline in average GP pay by a further 3% means that GP now have had to cope with a fourth successive year of real term cuts, leading to an overall 20% cut since 2004/5 despite working harder than ever before to deliver rising numbers of appointment. It’s no wonder young doctors are shunning becoming a GP and practices cannot recruit new GPs as a result.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘GPs are the bedrock of our health service and we want them to be properly rewarded for their work. The average GP earns almost £100,000 and they’re free to decide how money should be invested in their services.

‘Our New Deal for GPs will see 5,000 more doctors in general practice and £1bn spent on improving facilities across the country. On top of this we’re backing the NHS’s own plan for the health service with an extra £8bn a year by 2020 — this plan sees more investment in primary care.”

Pulse revealed this year that GP partner take-home pay declined by almost 6% from April to June, despite Government claims that GPs were given an uplift translating to a 1% funding rise with the 2015/16 contract.

Please note, the article was amended at 15:05 on 11 September 2015. The original said ‘GP partners’ pay fell by 1.4% to £96,000’. However, this was referring to GMS partners only. The real figures, incorporating both PMS and GMS partners, was £99,800 – a fall of 2.2%.