Contracted GPs in the UK earn more than double what they did 20 years ago, according to earnings figures published today (19 March) by the government's NHS Information Centre.
The figures show that contracted GPs in the UK earned on average £110,000 in 2005/06. In 1985/86, the most comparable group of GPs earned on average £25,254 (£51,512 in today's terms).
The report look at the changes in family doctors' pay over time as well as how pay varies according to factors such as age of GP and the number of partners in a practice. It acknowledges that GPs' contractual arrangements and work done have of course also changed over this period.
Because the report reflects earnings reported on tax returns, it includes private as well as NHS work and covers both full and part-time GPs.
But GPs today are worse off than they were in 2005-06, when the Information Centre's results were taken, according to the British Medical Association's (BMA) GPs' Committee (GPC).
This is because of two years of zero pay awards without an inflation increase to cover the costs of paying staff and expenses in a practice, says Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC chairman.
"These are now historical figures relating to the planned increase in pay for GPs under the new contract," said Dr Buckman.
"In recognition of the way family doctors' pay had fallen behind in the years leading up to the new contract, the government negotiated a system in which pay would rise significantly in the contract's second year.
"Since then, GPs have been singled out and their pay has been frozen with not even a cost of living increase in resources for their practices," he added.
The GPC also pointed out that the figures published cover not only earnings from being an NHS GP but any other earnings the doctors receive, such as for carrying out insurance examinations at the request of their patients and out-of-hours shifts in addition to their normal work.
Dr Buckman said that an increasing number of GPs today are salaried doctors who in general earn less than the GPs who undertake the business of running general practice.
"Many salaried doctors work part time, perhaps because of family commitments, and today's figures for salaried GPs reflect an average figure which does not separate out full-time and part time earnings," he said.
Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
"How can we say that GPs earn too much when we have footballers, pop singers with little talent, minor celebreties, advertising 'execs' etc etc and the like who put GP's salaries to shame? For years we have been campaigning for more recognition and better pay for people who really make a difference to society and are valued by the public, and now GPs are getting what they deserve we are suggesting that they are somehow paid "too much". How much would it cost if you put your car in a garage? Take the hourly rate a garage charges to service the car and then compare to the hourly rate it takes to "service" a human being and there will be a large discrepancy in favour of the garage. What about comparable professions like architects who are often on far more money than doctors. What about the obscene amount of money earned in the City, often by little more than Jack-the-lads with not half the education and training of a doctor? There are examples out there of GPs who are unscrupulous and do not fulfil their duty to the public, but on the whole they are experienced experts with an enormous responsibility who deserve every penny. Many GPs today have studied long and hard, and when other graduates were partying they were working impossible 100 hrs a week on the punishing junior doctor rotations. It is pointless comparing their pay to nurses; and most doctors would agree that paying nurses often below national average pay rates is scandalous and something the nursing unions (if they had any teeth) should be taking up with the government. The government has been tinkering with the health service and robbing Peter to pay Paul, shuffling around services in the illusion of change for the "better", and this is the fault of the Government alone and blame should not be laid at the feet of doctors and their pay packets." - Name and address supplied
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