Some GPs are earning as much as £250,000 a year, it was reported today.

The BBC said GP wages had risen by up to 25% since new contracts were introduced in 2004.

Figures from an annual survey by the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants suggest the average earnings of a GP now exceed £100,000.

One accountancy firm in the North East of England said it had nearly 10 GPs earning between £200,000 and £250,000 a year.

Experts say the new contracts were ill-devised and are partly responsible for current NHS deficits.

The chief executive of health charity the King's Fund, Niall Dickson, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "For the average person going to their GP the very idea that their doctor might be earning between £200,000 and £250,000 would be really astonishing.

"And by international standards that would put them way up at the top of the league even among developed countries."

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA's General Practitioners' Committee, said "good rewards" were needed to recruit doctors.

He said the average earnings were "a bit below" £100,000. He said those at the top end were probably running complex and high-powered businesses.

"There will be a few GPs who are at the top of these and primarily they are getting that sort of money for actually running quite a complex business rather than actually providing health care."