GPs in Scotland have seen their average income before tax slashed by 2.5 per cent while their colleagues in England and Wales benefited from pay rises.
The latest figures from the NHS, list GP earnings and expense estimates for the whole of the UK in the period 2015/16.
The average salary for independent contractor GPs in Scotland who account for 3,568 out of the country’s 4,913 local doctors, was down 2.5 per cent from £91,800 in 2014/15 to £89,500 in 2015/16.
Meanwhile, their English counterparts enjoyed a 1 per cent increase from £103,800 in 2014/15 to £104,900 last year.
Reasons for the pay disparity include higher expenses being incurred by doctors in Scotland for things like electricity bills and the costs of paying staff.
List sizes are also smaller, with the number of patients in each surgery being a factor in earnings.
The annual report comes as GPs in Scotland await details of their new employment contract to be rolled out later this month and set to come into effect next April. The ongoing GP recruitment crisis has led the Royal College of General Practitioners (Scotland) to predict a shortage of 856 GPs by 2021.
Dr Erik Jespersen a GP in Oban, said: “At a time when GP numbers in Scotland are not increasing, for the Scottish Government and the BMA to let GP pay drop like this sends the wrong message about how much we value general practice and how much we want to actually attract new doctors to work in it.”
Figures referenced by the recent Audit Scotland report show that the Scottish Government has presided over a six per cent fall in GP Practices and a 12 per cent increase in practice lists over the last decade.
Dr Andrew Buist deputy chair of BMA Scotland’s GP Committee said the 2.5 per cent fall in take home pay for a GP was “disappointing”.
He added: “We are the lowest paid of the four countries and it becomes a factor in terms of attracting new doctors into general practice in Scotland. Scottish doctors have always been paid less than England - it’s down to the fact our list sizes are lower on average and if you have more patients you can push up your earnings. But there is an argument that there should be more equivalence. Many of these things we’re hoping to address in the new Scottish contract which we’re working jointly with the Scottish Government on just now and we hope will start in April next year.”
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs, who recently launched a national Save Our Surgeries Campaign, said: “Given that we are in the midst of a serious GP crisis across Scotland, it is very concerning that this report shows Scottish GPs are paid less than those in other parts of the UK.”
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “We have increased investment in GP services every year since 2007 and we are committed to increasing the share of the NHS budget going to primary care in each year of this parliament.”