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BMJ. 2007 July 21; 335(7611): 117.
PMCID: PMC1925226

GPs' income rose by 23% under new contract, adjusted figures show

Figures published this week show that GPs in the United Kingdom earned an average net income (after deduction of expenses but before tax) of £100 170 (€148 770; $204 930) in 2004-5, an increase of 23% from 2003-4. The new GP contract was introduced in April 2004.

This is less than the 30% increase in income reported in November last year (BMJ 2006;333:1192 doi: 10.1136/bmj.39055.506308.DB), when the NHS Information Centre found that GPs earned an average £106 404 in 2004-5, up from £81 566 in 2003-4.

The figures have been adjusted to exclude employers' superannuation contributions. These were included for the first time in the GP pay figures released in November and made it difficult to compare income from year to year. Employers' contributions are estimated at £6234 per GP in 2004-5.

The data are based on the tax returns of nearly 18 000 GPs and include income from private as well as NHS work. The Information Centre estimates that in 2004-5 nearly half of all GPs had a net income of more than £100 000. And more GPs are earning the highest incomes. The centre estimates that 629 GPs (1.9%) had a net income of at least £200 000 in 2004-5; in 2003-4 the number was 222 (0.7%).

The average gross earnings for all GPs in 2004-5 were £230 097, and average expenses were £129 926. This gives a proportion of expenses to earnings of 57%, a decrease from the 2003-4 proportion of 60%, reflecting the fact that although expenses have increased in line with previous years, gross earnings have outpaced the increase in expenses.

Commenting on the figures, Laurence Buckman, acting chairman of the BMA's General Practitioners Committee, said, “The pay increase was essential, as—while workload had increased—GP income had fallen behind, and job vacancies could not be filled. Because the figures are based on tax returns they include private as well as NHS work. For GPs this would cover items like insurance medicals or completion of non-NHS health forms.

“They cover only the income of self employed GPs and do not include the incomes of salaried GPs, who now constitute about a third of the family doctor workforce. Salaried GPs usually earn less than GP principals, who run the business side of providing general practice for the NHS in addition to seeing patients.”

The detailed analysis in the latest report has also shown GPs' income varies with their age, which UK country they work in, whether their practice is urban or rural, and the number of partners in the practice.

With an average net income of £103 564 in 2004-5, GPs working in England earned more than their colleagues in the rest of the UK. GPs in Wales earned £91 588 on average, those in Northern Ireland earned £91 151, and those in Scotland earned £82 696. Older GPs (but not those aged over 60) earned more than their younger colleagues, and those working in rural practices earned more than those in cities. Average net income was also found to fall as the number of partners in a practice increased.

Notes

GP Earnings and Expenses Enquiry 2004/05: Final Report is available at www.ic.nhs.uk.


Articles from The BMJ are provided here courtesy of BMJ Group