Are doctors as rich as they're often portrayed as in pop culture? In this article, I explore how much the average doctor earns in the UK.
We all know that doctors are generally well paid. But just how well paid? How much do doctors earn in the UK?
The average salary for a doctor working in the UK is approximately £76,000. NHS basic pay starts at £29,000 for a newly qualified doctor and goes all the way up to £114,000 for an experienced consultant. In addition to experience, the field a doctor works in as well as their hours will have bearings on their pay.
There are just so many factors that go into how much doctors earn it can be difficult to put a single figure on the ‘average’ amount.
The average earnings of a ‘doctor’ has to encompass the newly minted graduate all the way up to the 20+ year plastic surgeon who works most of their time in their London private practice.
£76,000 was, at the time of my writing this article, the best estimate of an average salary from a number of different medical job sites. However, there’s a lot more to this answer than just a single number.
To have the figures make a bit more sense, as well as looking at an overall view, I’ve broken the question down into a few different parts: looking at junior doctors, surgeons and finally GPs.
Table of Contents
What Is The Average Salary For A Doctor?
As I say, because of the wide variety of work within the medical field, it can be difficult for a single average salary to be representative for all doctors.
In this table, I’ve roughly divided doctors into a few different categories so we can look at their average salaries respectively:
Type of Doctor Average Salary Junior Doctor (FY1/FY2) £31,500 Middle Grade Doctor £51,000 Consultant £103,000 Surgeon £105,000 GP £92,000
The exact figures for these categories will always depend on who you ask. I’ve gone with those from Medscape’s 2021 survey, but as an example of the variance out there GP Online’s survey of their personal members found the average GP salary to be £100,700 in 2019/20.
These differences will always exist because of the variation in how we define different types of doctor as well as who actually responds to the survey.
Maybe all the top-earning GPs were too busy with their feet up on a beach with a cocktail in hand to answer Medscape’s survey!
How Much Does A Junior Doctor Earn?
If you’re thinking of going to medical school or you’re just curious, you’re probably wondering how much a junior doctor earns.
A junior doctor in the UK will earn an average of £31,500 per year. The salary for a doctor’s first year of work is £29,000 but this rises to £34,000 in their second year. A junior doctor’s salary will also increase if they’re working more weekends or out of hours shifts.
I’m using the term ‘junior doctor’ here to mean a doctor in their first two years of work following graduation. In these years they’re referred to as an FY1 (Foundation Year 1) or an FY2.
Foundation doctors have a set base pay that then is built upon depending on the type of work they’re doing.
You get paid more for doing out of hours shifts, such as weekends or nights, or just for working longer hours.
So a foundation doctor working in the Accident & Emergency department is likely to be earning more than their colleague in psychiatry.
A junior doctor’s pay will also vary depending on where they are in the country. For example, as compensation for the higher cost of living, junior doctors in London are generally paid two to three thousand pounds extra per year.
As a junior doctor, you also often have the option of taking on extra shifts for extra pay. These are called ‘locum’ shifts- it’s essentially being a temp doctor, similar to a temp teacher.
If the hospital needs more manpower for whatever reason (staff sickness, understaffed, particularly busy etc.) they’ll put out extra shifts that you can fill as a junior doctor.
By regularly doing locum shifts throughout the year, a junior doctor can substantially increase their salary.
How Much Does A Surgeon Earn?
Popular culture often depicts a surgeon driving away from the hospital in their fancy sports car after having just saved someone’s life on the operating table.
But can surgeons really afford to spend all their time at the golf club when not on the ward? How much does the average surgeon in the UK actually earn?
A surgeon earns an average of £105,000 per year in the UK. This figure will vary depending on their level of training and experience, as well as the specialty they work in. Many surgeons also have a private practice that can significantly increase their take-home income.
The answer of how much a ‘surgeon’ earns also largely depends on who you define to be a ‘surgeon.’
Surgical training pathways are some of the longest in medicine. Maxillofacial surgery for example takes a whopping 11-13 years of training after graduating from medical school!
A surgeon in training will be earning a lot less than their consultant counterparts, despite how long the pathway takes.
Although technically ‘trainees,’ these doctors are more than capable of performing operations on their own and towards the end of their training are practically at the same level as the consultants.
Years of Being a Surgical Trainee Salary 1-2 £40,257 3-5 £51,017 6-8+ £58,398
What type of surgeon the doctor is can also have an impact on their earnings. Not so much on their base salary, this remains £84,559 – £114,003 depending on how long they’ve been a consultant in the NHS, but rather their private earning potential.
Particular types of surgeons are able to make a lot more money in the private sector than others- which I’ll get to slightly later on in the article…
How Much Does A GP Earn?
Approximately a third of all doctors go on to become GPs. Being the most popular individual specialty, how much do GPs earn?
A GP earns an average of £92,000 per year in the UK. NHS salaried GPs’ basic pay ranges from £62,000 to £94,000. However, many GPs are partners in their own practices- meaning they’re in charge of running their practice as a business and can take home significantly larger salaries.
GP practices are a somewhat unique part of the NHS because they’re largely run like private businesses. As a GP partner, you’re essentially becoming a partner in this business- meaning if the practice is doing well you’ll get paid more, but conversely, if things go wrong then you’re on the hook.
As a broad rule of thumb, a GP partner will get paid more than their salaried counterparts. But, they do have the additional stress of running the operation- including hiring, maintenance, taxes… instead of just turning up as a doctor and seeing patients.
NHS Digital’s GP Earnings and Expenses Estimates 2019/20 seemed to back up this generalisation:
The estimated average income before tax of GPs in either a General Medical Services or a Primary Medical Services practice was:
£121,800 for contractor GPs
£63,600 for salaried GPs
Aside from being a partner or salaried GP, a third option is to become a locum GP.
These GPs normally just have short-term to zero-hours contracts with local GP practices- meaning they’re able to plug gaps when extra doctors are needed at the practice. For example, when partners go off sick or want to take leave.
Locum GPs often don’t work full-time, so don’t have impressively large annual incomes, but can command very high hourly rates (potentially >£100/hour).
What Are The Highest Paid Medical Specialties?
In the world of medicine, as in the wider world, all things are not equal.
Doctors in certain specialties can earn significantly more than others- which often has nothing to do with the level of skill required or experience of the doctor.
So, if you’re after the big bucks, you may want to know what the highest paying medical specialties are…
The top three highest-paid medical specialties are plastic surgery, trauma and orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgery. Despite having roughly the same basic pay in the NHS, doctors in these specialties are able to develop incredibly lucrative private practices.
Although slightly out of date now, this paper published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine was an analysis of consultants’ NHS and private incomes in England in 2003/4 and gives valuable insight into the top-earning doctors:
Specialty NHS Income Private Income Total Income Plastic Surgery £75,004 £142,723 £217,727 Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery £74,157 £103,759 £177,915 Neurosurgery £78,893 £79,199 £158,093
As you can see, the private earnings of doctors in these specialties often dwarf their NHS salary. By being able to offer private operations to patients they’re able to supplement their NHS work with sometimes staggeringly large private paychecks.
At the end of the day, there is a huge variation in what a ‘doctor’ can be earning. Which really just reflects the huge variety of work open to doctors within the field of medicine.
I’d never recommend someone to go to medical school with the aim of making a lot of money. Honestly, there are just far easier ways of doing it out there.
But, if you’re passionate about improving the lives of your patients it can be reassuring to know that you’ll be well rewarded for it.
Do doctors get paid enough UK? ›
If you're working as a specialty doctor you'll earn a basic salary of £50,373 to £78,759. If you are a specialist grade doctor you'll earn a basic salary of £80,693 to £91,584.Do doctors make 6 figures? ›
So while the typical doctor earns six figures, they don't earn anything close to a full-time salary until after the typical college graduate has been making money for a decade. Assuming just a $50,000 annual salary, doctors forego half a million dollars by going to graduate school and doing their residency.Are UK doctors underpaid? ›
“Doctors' pay has been unjustifiably cut, with their take-home pay falling by almost a third since 2008.How much do doctors actually make UK? ›
Generally, the basic annual salary scales for doctors according to the stages of training (described by NHS England) are as follows: Foundation year doctors earn between £28,243-£32,691. Doctors in the early years of their specialty training earn £38,694-£49,036. Specialty doctors/registrars earn £41,158-£76,751.Do do doctors make less than MD? ›
MD and DO physicians make comparable salaries when equivalent on factors like specialty, position, years of experience, and location. However, MD physicians earn higher incomes than DO physicians on average because they: Are more likely to specialize, and specialists typically have higher salaries than generalists.Who is lowest paid doctor? ›
4 | Pediatrics
It should be noted that pediatricians have the lowest annual salary out of any specialty on our list; however, they also work fewer hours than most specialties. The biggest draw for pediatrics is that you get to work with children and adolescents.
How Much Do the Highest-Paid Doctors Make? The highest-paid doctors in the US are in surgical specialties such as plastic surgery, neurosurgery, or orthopedic surgery and report earning over half a million ($500,000) per year on average.Do American doctors make more than European doctors? ›
The average physician earnings were ranked as follows: United States – $316,000. Germany – $183,000.Which European country pays doctors the most? ›
Annual gross salaries of specialists (2020)
They are Ireland (€172,882), the Netherlands (€160,869), Denmark (€156,061), and Iceland (€155,276). Germany (€146,200) and the UK (€136,375) followed closely.
It's all about the agenda. The healthcare system in the US is setup to make money, it's a business pure and simple. It's product is healthcare, pay more and you get better, the same as other products, if you can pay more you can demand better. So given there is more money in the system then doctors can be paid more.
Are doctors considered rich in UK? ›
Over 25% of people working as a doctor in the UK earn less than 99,600 GBP while 75% of the doctors earn more than 99,600 GBP. Over 25% of people working as a doctor in the UK earn more than 212,000 GBP. The average doctor's salary in the UK per month is around 4,400 GBP.Why are doctors leaving the UK? ›
Poor pay and working conditions were cited as the top reasons for junior doctors wanting to quit the UK's health service.Which country pays their doctors the most? ›
Surprisingly, Luxembourg is considered the most lucrative country for doctors around the world. Luxembourg is a small country in western Europe, its population is around 632000. Luxembourg is among the top 10 countries that offer high quality of life around the world.How much does a doctor earn in UK per month? ›
A Doctor in the UK earns an average of £76,300 gross per year, which is about £4,400 net per month. The starting salary of a Doctor in the UK is around £40,050 gross per year. The highest salary of a Doctor in the UK can reach and exceed £200,000 gross per year.What is the highest paid job in the UK? ›
- Chief Executives and Senior Officials – £79,835.
- Marketing, Sales and Advertising Directors – £77,695.
- Information Technology Directors – £73,571.
- Specialist Medical Practitioners – £68,614.
- Headteachers and Principals – £66,686.
- Public Relations and Communications Directors – £66,510.
— Surgeons rank at the top of the payscale —
If you're working as a speciality doctor you earn a basic salary of between £40,037 and £74,661.
In the United States, an MD degree is typically more well-respected than a DO. That does not mean a physician with either degree is actually better or worse than the other. There are more MDs than DOs, and because of this standardized acceptance of MDs, they often are considered slightly more reputable.Is an MD lower than a PhD? ›
An M.D. and a Ph. D. are both doctorate degrees that individuals who complete the highest level of graduate school can receive. However, people who have an M.D. have different careers than those with a Ph.Why choose a DO over an MD? ›
MDs generally focus on treating specific conditions with medication. DOs, on the other hand, tend to focus on whole-body healing, with or without traditional medication. They generally have a stronger holistic approach and have been trained with additional hours of hands-on techniques.How much money do doctors retire with? ›
The chart says a 40-year-old physician making $250,000/yr should have $1,000,000 saved (4.0). The chart says a 60-year-old physician making $300,000/yr should have $3,600,000 saved (12.2).
How much do doctors earn in USA? ›
The average medical doctor salary in the USA is $174,778 per year or $84.03 per hour. Entry level positions start at $45,988 per year while most experienced workers make up to $225,000 per year.Who are the highest paid doctors in USA? ›
According to the latest statistics, physicians working in the orthopedics specialty are the highest earning doctors in the US, with an average annual income of US$511K. 2.Are many doctors millionaires? ›
Across the board according to the 2021 physician wealth report, 56% of physicians reported a net worth of over a million. Out of family physicians, the majority become millionaires by the age of 55, with only 11% having a net worth of a million before 45.
Doctors are super-rich and enjoy lavish lifestyles
As with other professions, your pay increases with experience. Initially, you have to put in the hard yards.
Nine U.S. physicians appeared on Forbes' 36th annual list of the world's richest people. The list featured 33 U.S.-based billionaire entrepreneurs, heirs, inventors and leaders in healthcare, and 2,668 billionaires all together. Below is the list of U.S. physician billionaires and their 2022 net worth.Why are doctors paid Low in UK? ›
It's a supply and demand thing. The government has a duty to the taxpayer to get value for money in healthcare. If, as you say, there is intense competition to become a doctor. Why would they pay more?Do doctors have a work/life balance UK? ›
NHS doctors can do what they like. It's a free country. They work for the NHS under employment contracts that do not restrict their activities outside of their contracted working hours or duties. There is absolutely nothing to stop them consulting in their time off.Can doctors be millionaires in UK? ›
They can make millions . Very few Physicians are super rich in the millions . Most doctors are Upper Middle Class.Which country pays doctors the most? ›
Annual gross salaries of specialists (2020)
In addition to Luxembourg, there are four other countries where specialists were paid more than €150,000 in 2020. They are Ireland (€172,882), the Netherlands (€160,869), Denmark (€156,061), and Iceland (€155,276). Germany (€146,200) and the UK (€136,375) followed closely.
The country is also home to some of the most beautiful cities and stunning countryside, aspects that make living and working in the UK as an Indian doctor a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The cost of living is considerably lower in comparison to the USA and UAE, too.
Are doctors overworked UK? ›
“The strength of feeling among the profession is clear, and evidenced by the overwhelming majorities voting in favour of the conference policies; doctors are fed up of being overworked, underpaid and undervalued and are prepared to take the necessary steps to achieve what they feel is only fair and right reward.Do doctors pay taxes UK? ›
As an NHS employee, you will pay Income Tax and National Insurance on your wages through the PAYE system. Overseas doctors will have tax and national insurance automatically deducted from their monthly salary. How much deducted depends on how much you earn.Are doctors happy in England? ›
On the whole, doctors working in medicine are happy. As with any job, there are downsides to working as a physician but a study of 11,516 UK-trained doctors revealed that the majority of them rated their work as highly enjoyable (scores 8–10) five years after graduation.Do doctors work 7 days a week UK? ›
11 hours rest a day. a day off each week. a rest break if the working day is longer than six hours.
The current NHS pension scheme provides the average full time consultant retiring at 60 with a pension of over £43,000 a year for life and a tax free lump sum of around £135,000. Compare this with a newly qualified doctor joining the reformed scheme after 2015.Do doctors live a wealthy lifestyle? ›
Doctors earn a wide range of incomes, depending on specialty, practice setting, and geographic location. For example, a pediatrician in an academic setting may earn less than $200,000 a year, whereas an orthopedic surgeon in private practice may earn in the high six figures or more!Is it worth being a doctor in the UK? ›
Long training times, long working hours, relatively low pay for the first few years and the constant threat of litigation. Which is why I think it's very telling that when I asked 287 of my fellow junior doctors whether they thought, everything considered, becoming a doctor was worth it- 67% of them answered yes.What is the highest paid doctor in UK? ›
- Endocrinologist (123,143 USD/year),
- Anesthesiologist (120,881 USD/year),
- Orthopedic surgeon (119,883 USD/year),
- Plastic surgeon (118,353 USD/year),
- and Psychiatrist (110,393 USD/year)
- No. 10: Australia. Specialists: $210,800. GPs: $104,300. ...
- No. 8: Austria. Specialists: $213,200. GPs: $141,500. ...
- No. 6: Switzerland. Specialists: $228,000. GPs: $172,800. ...
- No. 4: Germany. Specialists: $222,700. GPs: $214,700. ...
- No. 2: USA. Specialists: $350,300. GPs: $242,400.
Surprisingly, Luxembourg is considered the most lucrative country for doctors around the world. Luxembourg is a small country in western Europe, its population is around 632000. Luxembourg is among the top 10 countries that offer high quality of life around the world.
Are most millionaires doctors? ›
Across the board according to the 2021 physician wealth report, 56% of physicians reported a net worth of over a million.