GP profits in Scotland are as much as 20 per cent lower than those of their colleagues in England.
Final figures released by the NHS Information Centre show that GPs earned an average of £110,004 in 2005/6. However, the results also reveal substantial regional variations.
The report's figures pre-date two years of pay freezes.
Based on GP tax returns, the report found that the average GP in Scotland earned £90,619 in 2005/6 (GMS £90,127, PMS £95,574). This compares with £113,614 in England (GMS £110,054, PMS £121,375), £98,656 in Northern Ireland and £102,194 in Wales.
This gap appears to be growing. Between 2004/5 and 2005/6, average net profit increased by 9.7 per cent in England and 11.6 per cent in Wales, but only 9.6 per cent in Scotland.
GPC Scotland chairman Dr Dean Marshall, said that the earnings gap should be urgently addressed. If not, 'then it is unlikely that Scotland will be able to recruit and retain the GPs it needs', he added.
Dr Alan McDevitt, Glasgow LMC chairman, suggested that Scotland's weak earnings may reflect the lack of private work in Scotland, or the relationship between list size and income.
But he questioned how fair this system was, adding: 'We'd say that patients are sicker and more hard work here.'
There were also significant regional variations within England, where GPs in the South West earned on average 10 per cent less than their colleagues.
GPs in the region earned an average of £99,001. No other regions' GPs averaged less than £109,500, while those in the East Midlands and East of England topped £120,000.
The report also showed that rural GPs earned £116,967 compared with only £108,455 for urban GPs. Its authors suggest that this may reflect that almost 60 per cent of rural practices are also dispensing. This compares with only 6 per cent in urban areas.
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