GPs are earning 14% LESS than they were in 2008, reveals study

GPs earn 14% LESS than they did in 2008, reveals study amid nationwide shortage of family doctors

  • Researchers analysed data from surveys collected every two years
  • Doctors used to earn £115,900 but only took home £98,300 in 2017
  • Their pay has stayed the same despite inflation, researchers found

GPs now earn 14 per cent less than they did in 2008, a study has revealed amid the nationwide shortage of family doctors.

Dwindling numbers have seen the average waiting time for an appointment breach the two-week mark across Britain.

Health leaders have repeatedly blamed the shortage on increasing work pressures, hefty tax bills and an ageing workforce.

But now researchers say the growing workforce crisis is only being worsened by a drop in income across the profession.

GPs earned £115,900 a decade ago, on average. This dropped to £98,300 in 2017, after adjusting for inflation and the fewer number of sessions worked. 

GPs are earning 14 per cent less than they were in 2008 amid a nationwide shortage of family doctors, a study by University of Manchester has revealed

The NHS has lost almost 700 GPs in the past three years, figures from NHS Digital show. 

A team from University of Manchester analysed surveys taken by doctors between 2007 and 2017. 

Up to 1,300 doctors filled in the questionnaire each year. Almost all respondents (96 per cent) reported their income. 

National statistics show the average GP income has been fairly stable over the last decade, despite changes to the economy. 

Study author Rose Atkins and colleagues found that, after adjusting for inflation, the average GPs income decreased by 12.5 per cent. 

The biggest drops in income were recorded by partnered GPs, who are the highest earners because they are a ‘partner’ in their GP practice. 

They saw a drop of 15.1 per cent over the decade, from £115,911 in 2008 to £98,373 in 2017.  

WHY ARE GPS IN SHORTFALL? 

Pressures on GP services are higher than ever. Since 2013 the number of people living in the UK has soared from 64million in 2013 to nearly 67million. But the number of GPs has not kept pace.

Experts have said the dwindling number highlighted a ‘crisis’ in doctors’ surgeries and that GPs were under ‘tremendous pressure’ and ‘fighting a losing battle’.

Fewer young doctors are choosing to specialise as GPs, and are opting for more ‘macho’ career paths as surgeons or specialists.  

Numbers of GPs are known to be dwindling in recent years, placing even more pressure on an over-stretched health service.

Many are retiring in their 50s, moving abroad or leaving to work in the private sector, as practices have threatened to close their waiting lists until action is taken. 

This continued crisis has left many patients at risk, with staff unable to cope with the rising demand and slashed funding.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned that unless the NHS pension taxation scheme was reformed, more doctors would be lost.

Concerns about high-earning doctors’ pensions were raised in 2016. Doctors who earn more than £110,000 a year enter a ‘taper zone’ which triggers big tax bills.

The shortage of doctors comes despite the NHS adopting a plan to recruit 5,000 extra GPs by 2021.

Meanwhile, a record 138 GP surgeries shut down last year, closing at a rate of more than two a week, affecting more than 500,000 patients.

As recently as 2013, just 18 surgeries shut across the UK. By last year that number had increased nearly eight-fold.  

Salaried GPs, who have a fixed salary, saw a ten per cent decrease from £57,189 in 2008 to £51,208 in 2017. 

The recommended minimum annual salary for a full-time salaried GP in England, under the range set by the Doctors and Dentists Review Body, is £57,655.

The researchers, whose findings were published in the British Journal of General Practice, also took the number of shifts worked into consideration. 

The average number of shifts worked by GP partners decreased from 7.7 to seven per week, and 5.6 to 5.3 for salaried doctors.

Income adjusted for shifts worked and inflation dropped by ten per cent for partner GPs and seven per cent for salaried GPs, between 2008 and 2017.

The team concluded: ‘The decrease in GP income adjusted for sessions worked and inflation over the last decade may have contributed to the current problems with recruitment and retention.’

British GPs are among the highest paid in the world, earning up to four times as much as the national average salary of £26,000.

But they haven’t had a significant pay rise since 2004, when a GP contract was negotiated by the last Labour Government.

The NHS has lost almost 600 GPs in the last year – in June 2019 there were 28,257 GPs working in England, two per cent below the figure a year earlier. 

Almost as many family doctors left the health service between June 2018 and June 2019 as did in the entire three years to March, according to NHS figures. 

In England an ambition was set in 2016 to hire 5,000 more GPs by 2020 – but this target, pledged by Jeremy Hunt, seems likely to be missed.

Health secretary Matt Hancock pledged earlier this year to set a new deadline, but it has not been confirmed. 

A report by think tanks suggested the shortfall in GPs could grow by around 4,500 in five years unless urgent action is taken. 

Dwindling number of GPs is placing even more pressure on an over-stretched health service. 

Many are retiring in their 50s, moving abroad or leaving to work in the private sector, as practices have threatened to close their waiting lists until action is taken. 

This continued crisis has left many patients at risk, with staff unable to cope with the rising demand and slashed funding.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned unless the NHS pension taxation scheme was reformed, more doctors would be lost. 

Dubbed the ‘tax trap’, big bills linked to the value of a doctors pension has been blamed for deterring staff from taking on overtime.  

WHAT PRESSURES ARE THE NHS FACING? 

Nursing crisis could affect patient care 

As of October 2018, there were around 41,000 nurse vacancies in NHS England.

This is predicted to reach 70,000 by 2024 at the current rate, according to a major joint report in March by the King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation. 

Experts say low pay and long hours are two of the main factors which make finding nursing staff difficult. This, paired with student debt, makes the profession unappealing for young people.   

A Royal College of Nursing poll, of 1,692 Britons, found 71 per cent think there are not enough nurses to provide safe care to patients.

Of 1,408 people polled in England, 37 per cent said their top priority for any extra NHS funding was the recruitment of more nurses.  

Ageing population means more care needed

Longer lives are costing the cash-strapped NHS more money each year. 

One in six of the UK population is aged 65 and over, and by 2050 it will be one in four, according to NHS England.

This group of people are at the highest risk of adverse outcomes such as falls, disability, admission to hospital, or the need for long-term care.  

The King’s Fund reports that over 15million people in the UK have a chronic condition, many of whom will be elderly. 

The number of patients aged 75 or over needing an NHS operation in England has doubled since 1999, a study by Queen Mary University found.

Some 1,012,000 people had surgery in 2015, a sharp rise from the 545,000 recorded before the turn of the millennium. 

Bed shortages causing procedure cancellations

A record 4.4million people are waiting to go into hospital in England for a planned procedure, according to NHS England.

In comparison, a year ago there were 4.09million people on the list, and two years earlier it was 3.81million. 

A&E departments are also feeling the strain as backed-up hospital beds make it harder for them to find places to put new patients, so leave them waiting on temporary beds known as ‘trolleys’. 

NHS England revealed in July that the number of A&E patients stuck on trolleys waiting for an inpatient bed has increased by 70 per cent in a year. 

The figure is almost treble that from four years ago.

GP surgeries closing due to doctors leaving NHS

Over the last six years, 585 practices have closed, covering a population of nearly 1.9million, according to data obtained by Pulse magazine

Experts believe the rate of surgery closures is accelerating because rising numbers of under-pressure doctors are opting for early retirement – or deciding to abandon their careers. 

Despite the Government’s pledge to hire 5,000 extra GPs between by 2020, the NHS has lost almost 600 GPs in the last year.

Almost as many family doctors left the health service between June 2018 and June 2019 as did in the entire three years to March, according to NHS figures.

On top of this, a poll in February found 42 per cent of NHS GPs said they intended to leave or retire within five years, up from less than a third (32 per cent) in 2014. 

The research by the University of Warwick found almost a fifth (18 per cent) said they would leave within two years. 

Winter 2019/2020

Data from winter 2018/2019 reveals the NHS once again under intense pressure over the winter months.

A&E attendances and emergency admissions rise, there is dangerously high bed occupancy, and staff working over time – causing loss of morale. 

Total attendances at A&E rose to 6.2million last winter – a six per cent increase from the year before. Just over 85 per cent of patients were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours – the second worst performance on record.

The average bed occupancy rate last winter remained very high, at 93.5 per cent, comparable to the previous year’s figure of 94.4 per cent.

NHS bosses have been urged to step up anti-flu preparations earlier this year after a stark rise in the number of virus cases during winter in Australia.

Top British doctors said the increase in Australia could be a sign of what is to come in the UK this winter. 

Despite the looming winter months, figures suggest the NHS is now in a year-long crisis.  

Source: Read Full Article