The salary index published by First Practice Management and Towergate MIA insurance revealed that the average practice manager’s income is now £38,758, compared with £39,059 in 2011, and £37,800 in 2010.
This is the first time that the survey, which has been running for eight years, has shown a drop.
The latest survey of more than 1,300 practice managers' income from April showed that there were substantial differences based on location and practice size.
Steve Morris, general manager of First Practice Management, said the drop in pay was linked to cuts in GPs' income and cash-strapped PCTs removing LESs from practices.
He said: ‘Managers are reporting dramatically increased workloads and responsibilities and this is especially evident in those practices where support structures have not yet evolved to meet the demands of the new era.’
Greater London has remained the top-paying region in the UK, with average total earnings of £42,263, a decline of 3% from 2011’s survey figures. A total of 58% of respondents in Greater London earn £40,000 or over, down from 71% of managers earning £40,000 or over in 2011.
Wales has dropped below Scotland and Northern Ireland to become the lowest paying part of the UK this year, averaging £33,906. For Northern Ireland the figure is £34,253 and for Scotland it is £35,227.
For smaller practices, with less than 5,000 patients, the average manager’s income is now £31,589, a 2% reduction on the average of £32,235 last year. For the largest practices, with more than 14,000 patients, the average is £47,491, a 1.5% increase from last year.
Bonus payments continued to rise in 2012, up 5.42% since 2011. In 2011 bonuses rose 13.62%, the first rise since 2007.The proportion of practice managers who are partners in their practice rose to 3.75%, compared with 3.5% last year.
The GP Earnings and Expenses 2010/11 report published last month by the NHS Information Centre revealed that income before tax fell 1.8% for salaried GPs and partners in 2010/11.