Average GP earnings in the UK rose by around 2.5% in 2017-18 compared with the previous year, according to new figures* published today by NHS Digital.
The data show that the average income before tax for combined GPs (contractor and salaried) in the UK in 2017-18 was £94,800 for those GPs working in either a General Medical Services (GMS) or Primary Medical Services (PMS) practice compared to £92,500 in 2016-17 – an increase of 2.5%.
The British Medical Association (BMA) welcomed the increase but said it had to be considered within the context of having followed several years of real-terms pay cuts.
Overall, NHS Digital said that the median income before tax for combined GPs in the UK in 2017-18 was £88,900 compared to £87,400 in 2016-17 – an increase of 1.6%.
The scale of increased earnings varied depending on the type of working arrangement a GP had.
For contractor GPs, the average income before tax for those GPs working under a GMS contract in 2017-18 was £107,500, compared to £103,700 in 2016-17 – a 3.6% rise.
For GPs working under a PMS contract, they saw a 3% rise in earnings from £111,500 in 2016-17 to £114,900 the following year.
For those GPs working under either a GMS or PMS contract, their earnings rose by 3.5% from £105,500 in 2016-17 to £109,100 in 2017-18.
Salaried GPs’ average income before tax in 2017-18 was £58,400 for those GPs working in either a GMS or PMS practice compared to £56,800 in 2016-17 – an increase of 2.9%.
However, GPs’ expenses rose far more steeply than earnings as the data shows the expenses to earnings ratio for GMS or PMS contractor GPs in the UK in 2017-18 (which represents the proportion of gross earnings taken up by expenses) was 66.6% - an increase of 0.8 percentage points since 2016-17.
Earnings rose by the most in Wales where combined (contractor and salaried) GPs’ average income before tax was £91,800 (up by 2.7% on the previous year), while in England it was £96,000 (a rise of 2.5%), in Scotland it was £89,300 (2.3% rise) and in Northern Ireland it was £88,800 (1.3% rise).
Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, BMA GP committee England executive team member, said: “Today’s figures suggest that years of repeated, real-terms pay cuts for GPs are starting to be reversed.
“However, while earnings may have gone up, the number of doctors continues to fall, with the NHS in England losing more than 800 partners alone over the same period.
“As patient demand rises and the workforce gets smaller, GPs are taking on more work – often in excess of their contracted hours. This places a huge amount of strain on GPs, who are putting their own health and wellbeing at risk to ensure their patients get the best care possible.
“These statistics also highlight the significant financial burden that comes with running a practice, with the proportion of overall earnings going towards practice expenses reaching a record high.”
*GP Earnings and Expenses Estimates 2017/18. NHS Digital, August 2019.