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.