Rise of 10% takes GPs' earnings to £73,000

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Family doctors in England have enjoyed pay rises of 10 per cent on average over the past year, taking their typical salary to almost £73,000, a survey by independent accountants suggested yesterday.

The figures come after criticism of the Government's record on the NHS from GPs complaining of overwork and poor pay. More than half have warned that they will resign from the NHS unless a new contract is negotiated by next April.

The criticisms prompted the British Medical Association (BMA) to hand to ministers a 10-point plan for reshaping the NHS, which it said yesterday would ensure high professional standards by recruiting 10,000 extra GPs and 50 per cent more consultants.

The new figures on GPs' pay are based on a survey of nearly 3,500 GPs by Aisma, the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants. The association said GP pay last year averaged £70,916, but it found striking regional differences. In England GPs earned £72,712, up from £66,675 in 1999. In Wales the figure was £65,014 (£58,500 in 1999) and in Scotland £61,298 (£60,210). The highest-paid doctors are in the West Midlands, earning an average £80,554.

Mike Gilbert, the Aisma chairman, said: "GPs who take on additional lucrative work can see their earnings after tax break the £100,000 barrier. They deserve every penny they get."

The survey, covering more than one in 10 GPs, shows family doctors are taking on additional work to boost their income. Since April, GPs have been paid an average net remuneration of £56,510 by the NHS. They were awarded a 4.2 per cent pay rise in December.

The complex system of GPs' pay means that many family doctors can boost their income substantially by doing additional work, such as teaching, administration, working in hospitals or acting as advisers ­ paid for either by the NHS or from private sources.

The BMA put forward its 10-point plan "to improve the quality of health care and maintain patients' trust in doctors", which it said would be pivotal in its discussions with the new Government. It aimed to achieve higher standards, better regulation and more openness in the medical profession. Dr Ian Bogle, the BMA chairman, said: "The profession is not complacent. Every profession needs to change if it is to meet the demands and retain the trust of those it serves."

The 10-point plan outlines "sensible reforms" including: regular professional appraisal of doctors to make sure they are caring properly for patients;reform of the General Medical Council, the doctors' regulatory body; better postgraduate training of doctors; a swifter appointments system; an expansion of up to 50 per cent in the number of hospital consultants; treatment of patients according to need with the abolition of waiting lists; a no-fault compensation scheme in cases of medical negligence to reduce legal bills to the NHS; ensuring doctors understand issues of patients' consent to treatment; ensuring doctors adhere to rules of patient confidentiality; and better performance monitoring in hospitals.

Steven Thornton, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: "To meet these targets we need to find smarter and better ways of working in the NHS to free up doctors to specialise in what they do best, treating patients."

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