The average earnings across all types of GPs in England increased by 2.7% last year, according to official data.
However GP partner expenses have been rising faster than their income, NHS Digital said.
The yearly publication for 2019/20 said the average GP partner earned £121,800 before tax – a ‘statistically significant’ 3.8% increase from 2018/19 – while the average income for salaried GPs rose by 4.9%, from £60,600 to £63,600.
The data also showed that GP partners’ expenses rose by 6.5%, to £280,800.
Overall, the average earnings for all GPs across England increased by 2.7% to £100,700.
NHS Digital statistics showed that the ratio of expenses to earnings, which represents the proportion of gross earnings taken up by expenses, was 69.7% in 2019/20 – an 0.5% point increase since 2018/19.
The report said: ‘Since 2005/06, expenses have been increasing at a faster rate than income before tax for GPMS contractor GPs in England, resulting in an expenses to earnings ratio which has grown each year.’
Last year, an independent review found that GPs have the highest gender pay gap among doctors working in the NHS, with women earning significantly less than men.
Data from January 2020 also found that almost 90% of GPs earn less than £100,000 a year, despite the figures highlighting that payment stretches to more than £600,000 in one case.
BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘Today’s figures suggest that years of repeated, real-terms pay cuts for GPs are slowly reversing for both salaried GPs and GP contractors. However, they are relevant to over a year ago and before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has since been incredibly challenging.
‘It has worsened existing pressures in general practice; our workforce crisis has deepened and GPs are now spread more thinly with ever-increasing workloads. It’s clear that the pandemic has highlighted the incredible work of GPs and their teams, and it’s vital that they – and all doctors – are appropriately rewarded for their immense efforts and dedication.’
Dr Vautrey also pointed out that the report ‘shows that the average uplift for salaried GPs in England – 4.9% – was higher than the 3.8% for partners’.
He said: ‘This indicates how much GP partners value their experienced and talented staff, which is essential to recruiting and retaining more doctors and safeguarding patient care. What these headline figures don’t show, however, is the significant financial burden that comes with running a practice, with the proportion of gross earnings taken up by running costs continuing to grow significantly each year. This indicates how much GP contractors need to invest in their practices to maintain services for their patients.’
‘2019/20 was the first year of the five-year contract agreement for GPs, and although the widely welcomed new Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice was introduced at this time, the varying impact for individual GPs means it’s not possible to show how this has impacted earnings and expenses.’