Exclusive GP partners’ take home pay has plummeted by an average of 5.5% in the last seven months, a Pulse survey of more than 400 GP partners has shown.
Overall, 67% reported some kind of decrease, with a quarter reporting drops of between 5% and 10% and one in eight respondents saying their reduction in drawings was between 11% and 15%.
Only 8% of partners said they had been seen an increase in take-home pay, while a mid-point analysis of the figures revealed an average reduction of 5.5%.
Respondents and medical accountants put the changes down to a variety of factors, typically increased superannuation payments for pensions, extra costs for hiring locums, and changes to PMS funding arrangements.
Pulse has reported that there is a shortage of GP partners, and GP leaders have put this down to decreasing pay.
It follows last year’s DDRB pay award, which saw GP practices receiving a 0.28% increase in net funding after the Government accepted advice from the pay review body that falling staff costs should be taken into account when giving GPs a 1% rise in income.
This comes on top of an estimated 7.9% decrease in pay last year.
Devon GP and GPC member Dr Mark Sanford-Wood said: ‘The survey shows that people are working considerably harder for less money. Newly qualified GPs are increasingly choosing to work as locums or out of hours, because they can earn more money. It is difficult for practices to attract new partners. In terms of trying to make further savings there is no fat on the bone.
One respondent, Dr James Bissett, a GP in Comber, County Down, said increases in superannuation payments were the main reason for his fall in drawings of 11-15%, while another respondent said his reduction was around 40% and he was doing 14-hour days.
A further respondent put his 20% fall down to ‘PMS cuts and Carr-Hill cuts’.
Bob Senior, chair of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants, said: ‘I’m surprised that the reduction is as much as 5.5%. I would have estimated about 3%. Increased superannuation charges are one reason, and the recruitment problems are another.
‘Partners are retiring and practices are struggling to replace them. Practices have had to pick up higher locum costs to cover these shifts. There is very little slack in the system for GPs to make savings. They have already done lots of little things like changing electrical suppliers and phone suppliers, and reducing stationery costs. There isn’t much left they can do.’
Glyn Rawlings, a specialist medical accountant at Rowleys, said: ‘GPs are now feeling the effects of lower profits on their monthly drawings. Accounts now being complete are showing lower profits than previous years, and with the significant increases in employee’s pension contributions over the last few years from a top rate of 8.5% in 2011/12 to 13.3% in 2013/14 then monthly drawings need to reduce to ensure financial stability.
‘For a GP with pensionable earnings of around £99,000 the increase in total employee and employers’ contributions would have amounted to around £5,000 over that period.’
The effects were less severe among non-partners, where almost 60% have seen their pay remain the same. Almost 13% had their pay cut by between 1% and 10%, however.
Survey results in full
What change in your take-home pay have you personally experienced since April (partners only)?
More than 20% increase: 5 (1.2%)
16%-20% increase: 7 (1.7%)
11-15% increase: 6 (1.4%)
6%-10% increase: 6 (1.4%)
1-5% increase: 11 (2.6%)
No change: 107 (25.2%)
1-5% decrease: 71 (16.7%)
6%-10% decrease: 110 (25.9%)
11%-15% decrease: 51 (12.0%)
16%-20% decrease: 25 (5.9%)
More than 20% decrease 25 (5.9%)
What change in your take-home pay have you personally experienced since April (non-partners only)?
20% or more increase: 5 (2.9%)
16%-20% increase: 0 (0%)
11-15% increase: 1 (0.6%)
6%-10% increase: 2 (1.1%)
1-5% increase: 18 (10.3%)
No change: 103 (58.9%)
1-5% decrease: 14 (8%)
6%-10% decrease: 10 (5.7%)
11%-15% decrease: 9 (5.1%)
16-20% decrease: 5 (2.9%)
More than 20% decrease: 8 (1.9%)
The survey launched on 31 October 2014, collating responses using the SurveyMonkey tool. The 31 questions covered a wide range of GP topics, to avoid selection bias on one issue. The survey was advertised to readers via our website and email newsletter, with a prize draw for a Samsung HD TV as an incentive to complete the survey. Some 599 GPs answered these questions.