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‘UK GPs among best paid in developed countries’, OECD report claims

UK GPs were the best-rewarded primary care doctors in Europe in 2011 and earned more than their counterparts in Australia and Canada, according to new figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The OECD’s ‘Health at a Glance’ report, which reviewed key health indicators across 34 OECD member countries and key emerging countries, claimed that GP partners in the UK earned 3.4 times the average national wage. This compared favourably with Australia, where GPs earned 1.7 times the average wage, while those in Ireland, Canada and the Netherlands earned three times the average, the figures show.

However, GP leaders said that these figures were not ‘comparing like for like’ and UK GPs had far greater duties than generalists in other countries.

The OECD found that the income of self-employed GPs in the UK rose sharply following the implementation of the GP contract in 2004. GPs in the UK, Poland and Denmark were the only ones to earn more than the average hospital specialist.

The report said: ‘In many OECD countries, the income gap between general practitioners and specialists has widened over the past decade, reducing the financial attractiveness of general practice.’

UK salaried GPs earned 1.9 times the average wage, the figures showed.

However, Dr Peter Swinyard, the chair of the Family Doctors Association and a GP in Swindon, said that the comparison between GPs in different countries was unfair.

He said: ‘[The figures are] not comparing like with like. If you look across Europe, or the OECD countries, the job of a GP is very different in different countries and different cultures.’

‘We do an awful lot more chronic and acute disease management than GPs in other countries will do, so the job is broader in its scope and responsibilities than it is in other countries, where they’re basically more of a sorting house where they either send everyone off to a hospital or wipe their snotty nose. So it’s a different job, and you’re comparing two different jobs.’


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