The level of bonuses paid to practice managers has fallen by 26% in the last year, according to a survey of the profession's salaries. This is despite a basic pay rise of 2.77%. The net effect has been a rise in practice managers' incomes of just over 2%.
More than 1,350 practice managers across the UK responded to the survey, commissioned by First Practice Management for the fifth year running. Respondents provided salary and bonus information as at 1 April 2009.
This is the fourth successive year that managers' bonuses have been reduced, and follow a 17% reduction in 2008.
In 2007, bonuses represented 2.7% of a practice manager's income. In 2008, this had dropped to 2.2%. In 2009 bonuses now represent 1.5% of income. The average bonus is now £579, down from £785 in 2008, and the average of £951 in 2007.
According to the survey, the average manager's income is now £36,925, compared to £36,155 last year and £35,636 in 2007, although there are substantial differences based on location and practice size.
Greater London remains the top-paying region of the UK, with average total earnings of £40,550, and 49% of managers earning more than £40,000. The Scotland and Northern Ireland region is the lowest-paying region, with average total earnings at £32,702 and only 13% earning more than £40,000.
However, the Scotland and Northern Ireland region has the highest number of small practices in the UK among the survey respondents, with 28% of the practices having less than 5,000 patients.
For smaller practices (those with fewer than 5,000 patients) the average manager's income is now £30,919, and for the very largest practices (those with more than 14,000 patients) the average is £44,969.
Analyst Steve Morris, from David Stephen (IT) Design, which designed and collated the survey for First Practice Management, said: "The financial slow-down in GP practices, which started to bite last year, has rolled forward into 2009, and the number of practices not paying a Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) or other target performance bonus to managers has risen again, from 55% in 2007, to 61% in 2008, and now to 68% in 2009.
"It is not only bonus payments which are affected, as a small number of practices have commented that there is to be no pay increase for their staff this year – and some of these are large practices.
"In the current climate, practices and their staff have to produce continually increasing amounts of work under directed and local enhanced services, as well as practice-based commissioning initiatives and the QOF, in order to hit an increasingly diverse range of targets."
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"I have never had a bonus" – Janet Jannaway, Stanford-le-hope
"The results are much as I would expect. I think bonuses have reduced because the QOF is now seen as a core task and not something for which an incentive payment should be paid to staff members. Most practices I know have stopped these bonuses related to QOF. I think higher-paid managers is sometimes related to involvement in external activities, which benefit the practice and the manager's remuneration. This includes PBC consortia work and involvement in PCT work" – Pamela Spetch, Yorkshire