The 'statistically significant' drop in average income for partners and salaried GPs working in GMS or PMS practices saw income fall to £90,200 in 2013/14, down 2.9% from £92,900 in 2012/13.
Median income for the same group of GPs also fell 2.9%, from £89,300 to £86,700, the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) statistics show.
The drop is more than double the 1.4% decline in average GP income reported between 2011/12 and 2012/13, and reveals the continuing sharp drop in pay since the 2004 GP contract. GPonline reported last year that GP income had dropped a quarter from its peak after the 2005 introduction of the QOF.
GP leaders warned the 20% drop in GP income since 2004/5 had left many practices struggling to remain financially viable.
Falling GP income
Average income for GP partners across the UK fell below £100,000 for the first time since the 2004 GP contract, the data reveal. On average, partners in GMS and PMS practices earned £99,800 in 2013/14, down 2.2%.
The dip in income for GMS partners was 1.4% from £97,300 to £96,000, while PMS partners' income fell 3.7% from £110,800 to £106,800.
GP income - for partners and salaried GPs combined - fell fastest in England, down 3.7% to £90,700 in 2013/14, while Welsh GPs saw a decrease of 1.2% to £85,900.
In Scotland, GP income rose 1.6% to £86,500, while in Northern Ireland GP income rose 4.7% to £96,500.
Rising GP expenses
Expenses across the UK in 2013/14 accounted for 63.5% of gross earnings, up 1% from 2012/13, the data show.
GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'These figures provide yet more evidence of the growing financial pressures faced by general practice, with funding continuing to be squeezed by rising expenses that have reached record levels. With two thirds of a practice’s income being used on the basics of keeping a practice afloat, including paying for rising costs for utilities, building upkeep and vital staff such as receptionists and nurses, there is nothing left to develop effective patient services that meet patient’s growing needs.
'The decline in average GP pay by a further 3% means that GP now have had to cope with a fourth successive year of real-term cuts, leading to an overall 20% cut since 2004/5 despite working harder than ever before to deliver rising numbers of appointments. It’s no wonder young doctors are shunning becoming a GP and practices cannot recruit new GPs as a result.
'The government has to take action to stem the expenses pressure on GP practices as we are rapidly reaching a stage where many GP practices will struggle to remain financially viable.'
Dr Vautrey told GPonline that the 'rise' in combined partner and salaried GP income in Northern Ireland was likely to be the result of problems filling posts. 'It is probably due to the difficulty in recruiting new GPs to practices as there hasn't been any material difference in the amount of money invested in NI general practice overall,' he said.