Drop in pay spurs docs to seek more private work

By Robin Stride

Significant numbers of doctors say they plan to take on more private practice to boost their earnings after suffering big pay losses due to Covid-19.

Income dropped for 29% of doctors taking part in a major pay survey of those working in private practice and the NHS – and 27% reported they now aim to do more private work.

Referral delays, restrictions on private practice, and time-consuming infection control measures are among reasons cited for lower incomes.

Women doctors were disproportionally affected with a greater fall in pay compared to their male counterparts, according to the survey of over 1,000 doctors by a health information service. They reported 30% lower pay than their male counterparts.

Over 60% of doctors felt under-rewarded for their work, according to the Medscape UK Doctors’ Salary and Satisfaction Survey 2021.

Doctors across specialties were included in the survey, with 73% working in the NHS, 23% operating in both the NHS and private sector, and 4% in the private sector only. 

Twenty-nine per cent were considering leaving the UK to practise abroad, more commonly considered by the under-45s (45%) than over-45s (20%).

The survey, conducted between 10 November 2020 to 16 February 2021, suggests the gender earnings gap increased during the pandemic, with female doctors reporting a 10% reduction in earnings on average, which accounted for double that reported by male doctors.

The average earnings gap between GPs and specialists also widened.

GPs reported an average drop of £12,000 compared with specialists, who reported an average decrease of £9,000. 

A third of doctors reported a rise in earnings with enhanced private practice due to NHS shutdowns among common reasons cited.