Senior GPs’ salaries have risen to their highest in six years at a time when patients are finding it harder than ever to get an appointment.
Latest NHS figures for 2017 show the average salaries of partner GPs – who are in charge of running surgeries – have risen to £111,500, a 5.2 per cent rise within a year.
Their pay is now at the highest level since 2012 despite the fact that patients’ satisfaction with surgeries is at an all-time low.
The British Medical Association, the doctors’ union, said salaries had gone up because GPs were leaving the profession and there was more money to go round.
GP practices receive money from the NHS via local Clinical Commissioning Groups depending on the services they provide and the number of patients on their book.
Doctors take their salaries out of this pot so if there are fewer of them in the surgery there is more money to go round.
Yet patients’ are the least satisfied with their GP services since records began 35 years ago and a quarter are waiting a week or more for an appointment.
Partner GPs, who are in charge of running doctors’ surgeries, now earn an average of £111,500 a year, while the average salary for all GPs has risen to £92,500, NHS figures reveal
Yesterday’s figures from NHS Digital show the average salary for all GPs in 2016-17 was £92,500, up from £90,100 in 2015-16.
But for partner GPs salaries rose from £106,000 to £111,500 in the same period.
GPs’ salaries benefited hugely from a contract introduced by Labour in 2004 which also allowed them to opt out of evening and weekend work.
Average pay to for partners increased to £100,000 a year thanks to a controversial bonus scheme which enabled them to earn extra cash for monitoring and treating certain conditions.
Pay has risen higher because there are fewer GPs
But in recent years their salaries have fallen because surgeries have received less money from the NHS due to cutbacks.
The BMA said a ‘significant proportion’ of this year’s pay rise was as a result of a fall in GP numbers, particularly partners.
Experts said patients would wonder why their salaries were going up at a time of severe NHS cutbacks and a dramatic fall in satisfaction.
‘Taxpayers will wonder whether these increases are necessary’
JUNIOR DOCTORS PLOT NEW STRIKE OVER PAY
Junior doctors are plotting strike action which threatens fresh chaos for the NHS.
Leaders of their union the British Medical Association are furious after junior doctors were offered only a 1 per cent pay rise last month.
Polling of 2,500 junior doctors suggested more than 80 per cent are willing to strike.
The BMA’s most senior members – its council – will now decide whether to carry out a formal ballot of up to 55,000 junior doctors.
Junior doctors last took industrial action in 2016 and four separate walkouts that winter caused huge disruption for hospitals.
About 23,000 operations and 100,000 outpatient appointments were cancelled between January and April that year and many patients waited months to be rescheduled.
The junior doctors committee chairman Jeeves Wijesuriya wrote last month: ‘This is no pay increase. This is yet another real-terms pay cut.’
John O’Connell, chief executive at the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘GPs in Britain are already well paid by international comparisons, so taxpayers will wonder whether these increases are entirely necessary.
‘A lot of the NHS budget is thrown into inflated wages for those at the top and we need to make sure that every penny in the health budget is spent effectively.’
Earlier this month NHS England’s GP Patient Survey showed that a quarter of patients were waiting a week or more for an appointment, and a third were struggling to get through on the phone
A separate report in March – the British Social Attitudes Survey – showed that patients’ satisfaction with GPs had fallen to its lowest level in 35 years.
Average satisfaction levels fell by 7 per cent to 65 per cent, marking the lowest figure since the research started in 1983.
‘Earnings have risen but partners are forced to work longer hours’
Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP committee said: ‘After a decade during which GP pay fell by 20 per cent, something that has had a real impact on GP recruitment, retention and morale, at long last GPs may be seeing an end to repeated pay cuts.
‘While earnings may have risen, over the same time frame we have seen the workforce crisis deepen, with the number of full-time equivalent GPs in England falling by more than 2 per cent, and partners by more than 4 per cent.
‘GPs are therefore spreading themselves more thinly.
‘With partners unable to hire more doctors, they themselves are taking on additional work, are forced to work longer hours.
‘They are placing further pressure on themselves to deliver care to patients amid mounting demand.’
‘It is likely that the falling workforce accounts for a significant proportion of the apparent rise in an average partner’s salary, as funding allocated to them to meet the needs of their patients is shared between fewer doctors.’