Little Change in UK Doctors' Earnings: Medscape Survey

Tim Locke

June 05, 2019

Medscape's latest UK Doctors' Salary and Satisfaction report suggests only small rises in income over the past 2 years, and a significant gender pay gap. 

Based on online survey responses from 1022 fulltime practising doctors, GPs' average full-time earnings for last year were nearly flat while specialists suffered an average £1000 a year pay cut.

GP's median earnings dropped by £10,000 to £90,000 while specialists' median pay rose by £5000 to £100,000.

Sixty-seven percent of GPs and 59% of specialists said they weren't paid enough.

Pay Gaps

The gender pay gap for GPs in 2018 was 26% in favour of male doctors – a slight improvement on 29% in 2016.

Female specialists took home 38% less than men – a big improvement on the 56% gap in 2016.

Despite this, women doctors were only slightly less likely (38%) than men (41%) to be content with their wages.

Our data also show an ethnicity pay gap. Asian/Asian British GPs and specialists overall earned around £21,000 a year less than their white counterparts.

Consultation Time

The Royal College of GPs has called for standard 15 minute appointments to replace the current 10 minute slots. Our survey found 9-12 minutes was the average consultation time for 71% of GPs.

Male doctors were more likely to do 9-12 minute consultations, and more female doctors did 13-16 minute sessions.

Seeing patients accounted for 33 hours of the working week for male GPs, 30 hours for women GPs. Paperwork and admin took up around 15 hours a week for nearly half (48%) of doctors.

Job Challenges

Seventy percent of those responding to our survey work solely in the NHS and NHS-related challenges headed our list of work-related problems.

Eighty-one percent said working in the NHS had become harder.

Workload and staffing levels were cited as doctors' top challenges (50%), followed by NHS rules and regulations (20%).

These dominated over other practice issues like difficult patients (9%) and long working hours (8%).

Staffing and workload issues were more of a concern for specialists (51%) than GPs (40%).

Overall these concerns were 3% higher than our 2016 data.

Personal comments given included:

  • "Staggering staffing shortages, working long hours and burnout. Physical and mental stresses."

  • "Emotional exhaustion."

  • "Dealing with difficult colleagues."

  • "Bullying/undermining at work, worries about career progression and training."

  • "Poor management, dysfunctional department."

  • "Dealing with incompetent managers and idiotic government regulations."

Many have just had enough, with 31% saying they were thinking of moving to practise abroad. However, Brexit uncertainty was not as big a driver as you might think. Leaving the EU may change plans for 9% of overseas doctors working in the UK. That compared with 30% in 2016.

Twenty eight percent of doctors said they were considering doing more private work.

Positive Aspects of Being a Doctor

Being a doctor can still be rewarding, our survey found. For 36% the most rewarding aspect was being good at what they do, finding answers and diagnoses. Gratitude of patients was next at 22%, then at 21% "knowing that I'm making the world a better place".

Nearly two thirds (61%) would chose medicine as a career again.

Younger doctors, women, and GPs were less likely to pick the same career. Most doctors (77%) would select the same specialty or practice setting.


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