Family doctors now pocket £100,000 a year on average after wages soared even though millions of patients are struggling to get appointments, and figures show that GP earnings have increased by 11 per cent in the past four years.
During that period, patients have encountered increasing waiting lists and hundreds of practices have closed.
Only around half of appointments are now in person, with the rest online or by phone, despite warnings from experts that the shift to Zoom medicine means doctors risk missing vital signs and symptoms, leading to a delay in diagnosis of life-threatening conditions such as cancer.
But in May there was a backlash from GP leaders after NHS England sent a letter to GP practices stating that patients must be offered face to face appointments if they demand them.
NHS figures show that in 2019-20 the average GP in England made £100,700 before tax, three times more than nurses, who get £33,384 on average and have had to fight for a pay increase.
This is up from £98,000 the year before and the first time wages for NHS GPs have topped £100,000 since the 2008 financial disaster.
The figures also show there’s a huge gender pay gap between male and female doctors. On average, male GPs earn £122,800, compared with £82,900 for women.
In July the Government announced that NHS workers would get a 3 per cent pay increase, but this only affects GPs who are salaried rather than those who run their own practices. GP partners who run their practices as businesses, pay salaried doctors, other personnel and running costs from the income they get from the NHS and divided the rest between themselves.
These doctors can take home enormous sums, with the nation’s highest-paid GP earning £700,000 a year, and 270 GPs in England and Wales have pensionable yearly incomes over £200,000.
Earnings have risen unwaveringly since 2013, but 778 GP practices have closed since then, forcing more than two million patients to move surgery. Numerous patients face long delays for appointments.
The revelations about high GP pay will add to calls for doctors to justify their wages by ensuring patients can readily access face to face appointments.
Before the pandemic, 79 per cent of GP appointments were face to face, but this dropped to 30 per cent at the peak of the COVID 19 crisis. The latest figures show that they’re at 56 per cent.
Nevertheless, when NHS England sent its letter about face-to-face appointments, the British Medical Association claimed practices couldn’t continue to deliver all that was expected of them.
It’s the same everywhere, and most people haven’t seen a doctor in two years, and then, when they do need help, all they’re getting is over the phone appointments or conference calls, and although most of them are extremely helpful and understanding, it’s not what the British people want, and COVID is still being used as an excuse.
The only people that can be seen at a surgery at the moment is a nurse, and that’s for diabetic checks and possibly blood tests, and also a pretty stroppy receptionist, and I fear that privatisation is coming, and people will shortly be paying to see a GP, and if you can’t afford it, then you’ll get a phone call instead.
Most GP surgeries are locked and bolted, and most GPs are only in the morning session, and there are none after noon, with only receptionists left to bear the brunt of irrate patients.
We clapped for the NHS nurses, doctors, paramedics, porters and cleaners on the frontline in hospitals who were putting their own lives at risk, but I was not clapping for my GP surgery who had pretty much shut up shop and bolted their front doors. Of course, the NHS is a huge organisation, some of them heroes and some of them not.