UK Doctors 'Upper Mid Table' in Global Salary League

Tim Locke

September 20, 2019

UK doctors' salaries rank third out of seven countries in a Medscape survey.

The International Physician Compensation Report 2019 asked doctors in the UK, US, France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, and Mexico how much they earn.

The comparison report follows on from our Medscape UK Salary and Satisfaction Report in May.

US doctors were top of the table with the equivalent of around £241,000 a year. Germany was next with nearly half US earnings at £128,000. Then came the UK on around £113,000. Bottom of the table was Mexico on £16,000 – below France, Spain, and Brazil.

As you might expect, US doctors were most likely to say they were fairly rewarded for their work. UK doctors were in fourth place below Germany and Brazil.

Satisfaction Rates

Satisfaction with pay rates were fairly low in the UK - 33% satisfaction in primary care and 41% for specialists.

"In the UK, increasing patient workloads and an increasing number of hours spent at work to accommodate this — but without a corresponding increase in earnings — is probably the main reason why physicians don't feel fairly compensated," GP and Medscape UK Medical Editor Dr Rob Hicks, told us.

To get to these headline numbers, earnings for employed doctors included salary, bonuses, and any profit sharing. Pay for self-employed physicians included earnings after taxes and business expenses before income tax. Of course, earnings don't give the whole story as living expenses differ greatly across the countries.

Gender Pay Gaps

The UK had the second biggest gender pay gap for GPs and primary care doctors (26%) below Brazil (29%) but ahead of the US (25%). Spain wasn't included in these calculations.

Germany had the biggest gender pay gap for specialists (47%) with the UK third (38%) behind France (43%).

French primary care doctors of both genders spent the most time with patients in a week (on average 45 hours for male and 43 hours for female doctors). The UK was bottom - male doctors 33 hours, and females 30. Spain wasn't included.

One reason French doctors may be so busy with patients is healthcare staff reductions in that country.

If you work in the NHS and think you do more paperwork and admin than other countries, you may be surprised. Of doctors spending more than 25 hours a week on these tasks, the UK was fifth at 17%. Mexico was highest at 25%, and France the lowest at 11%.

UK doctors ranked fourth for satisfaction with job performance. Germany was top and France last.

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