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For more than a decade, Australia has been hiring more and more UK doctors for general practitioner positions. Although there are many reasons why UK GPs find the prospect of working in Australia more attractive – including less paperwork, better administrative support, more quality time with patients and a better work-life balance – the one that typically stands out is their dissatisfaction with their GP salary in the UK. Based on the aforementioned, it appears that GP salaries in the UK are not attractive enough to keep some doctors from deciding to leave everything and everyone behind, and start fresh in the land Down Under. Is it a smart decision to apply for a GP post in Australia? We believe so, and we’ll tell you why in this post.

How much do GPs earn in the UK?

When it comes to talk about GP salaries, your foremost question will undoubtedly be: How much do GPs earn in the UK? You might have seen the news report of Britain’s highest earning GP making at least £700,000 a year. There are a number of GPs in the UK raking in ridiculously high salaries by performing minor surgeries and special drug treatments in addition to their normal general medicine duties. For the majority of UK general practitioners, however, the situation looks quite different.

Average GP salary in the UK

The average GP salary in the UK is pegged at around £98,000 per year. However, this figure should be treated as a very rough estimate as some GPs earn as little as £31,000 in a year. Besides, the estimated average GP salary in the UK varies greatly depending on which source you’re looking at. For example, according to the British Medical Association, the minimum pay for salaried GPs in England is £68,974, whilst the maximum is set at £104,086 per year. Online salary comparison site Check-a-Salary sets the average GP doctor salary in the UK at £87,057 per year, with the minimum annual salary being £39,005 and the maximum annual salary being £170,560. With inflation rates consistently above 3% since August 2021, affecting food and energy prices, there’s no doubt that general practitioners earning figures below the average salary for a GP in the UK are not compensated enough.  The minimum annual salary – whichever figure you’ll go with – is not enough to prevent the majority of general practitioners from feeling the pinch, much like other ‘regular’ citizens in the country.

Breakdown of annual, monthly and hourly UK GP salary rates

Based on the estimated £98,000 average GP annual salary mentioned in the previous section, as well as the data provided by the BMA concerning the minimum and maximum GP salaries for 2022, a breakdown of these figures into monthly and hourly rates will look a little something like this:

Estimated GP Annual Salary in the UK Estimated GP Salary in the UK Per Month Estimated GP Salary in the UK Per Hour (40 Hours Per Week)
£68,974 £5,747.83 £33.16
£98,000 £8,166.66 £51.04
£104,000 £8,666.66 £54.16

Note that since the above figures are taken from two different sources, some discrepancies would be inherent, which is why the above salary rates should be treated as illustrative only. Also, there is widespread consensus that very few (if any) doctors work for only 40 hours a week. Extended work hours could mean inadequate sleep and fatigue which eventually lead to burnout – one of the reasons why UK doctors are interested in working in Australia.

How much do junior doctors earn in the UK?

Now that you have a fair idea of the salary scale of GPs in the UK, you might be asking now: How much do junior doctors earn in the UK? Answering this question would also give you an indication of the GP starting salary in the UK, right? According to the Medical School Expert page, the average junior doctor salary in the UK is £31,500 per year. It is also stated on the page that the figures they used come from the Medscape UK Doctors’ Salary and Satisfaction Report 2021. The quoted starting salary for doctors in the UK is not unusual as it simply shows how a doctor’s level of experience – or, in this case, the inadequate field experience of a junior doctor – does affect one’s salary grade.

Salary progression

Citing figures from the same Medscape report, the Medical School Expert provides information on the salary progression of a doctor – from a junior doctor earning an average of £31,500 in their first and second year of working to employment in more senior roles. A middle grade doctor typically earns an average of £51,000 per year, while a consultant and a surgeon would earn £103,000 and £105,000 per year on average respectively. For GPs, the average yearly salary is set at £92,000. However, this is understandable as the data is sourced from a 2021 report. There are other doctor salary progression data sources like the Jobted job site where they provide salary comparisons for different types of doctors. However, note that the information they share is purely based on the number of doctor jobs posted on their website in the last 12 months.

Average working hours of UK general practitioners

The National GP Worklife Survey, carried out by the University of Manchester, found that the mean number of weekly hours worked by general practitioners in the UK was 38.4 and the median number of weekly hours worked was 40. The findings indicate that the average number of hours worked by general practitioners remained relatively stable at approximately 41.5 hours per week from 2008 to 2017. However, there was a consistent decrease in hours from 2017 to 2021, with the average falling to 38.4 hours per week. The findings also show that 1.4% of the GP workforce work 54.6 hours per week, 27.9% work 36.6 hours and 18.1% work 25.7 hours per week.

UK GP salary in comparison to Australian GP salary

UK GPs work 38.4 hours per week on average and earn £90,000 a year. The 2023 Alecto GP Salary Survey has revealed that the average annual GP salary in Australia for those working ~40 hours per week is equivalent to £172,916 ($334,000). Research has found the average family doctor in the UK sees 205 patients a week. Australian GPs on the other hand, only see an average of 114 patients each week, that’s almost half compared to the UK. The stats clearly show that GPs in Australia are far better off in terms of salary and working hours which allows them to enjoy a better work-life balance. Not surprisingly, Australia is a very popular destination for UK GPs. In fact, we receive a lot of enquiries for Australian GP jobs throughout the year, and see many general practitioners moving from the UK to Australia. We understand that making such a life-changing decision takes time and needs to be considered carefully, not just because of your prospective doctor salary in Australia, but also for other reasons. Surely enough you will have many questions, which we are more than happy to answer.

Cost of living – UK vs Australia

Whether you’re looking for locum GP jobs in Australia with a view of eventually getting a more permanent post in the long term, or to test the waters so to speak, you’ll naturally be concerned with comparing the cost of living in Australia vs UK. By knowing how much you’ll need on average to live the lifestyle you want, you’ll have a sound basis for making a career-defining decision that’ll take you thousands of kilometres away from home. To assist you in your ‘cost of living UK vs Australia’ comparison, we’ve looked at the average costs of some key standard living expenses, namely the rent, utilities, groceries, clothing, transportation and dining out at restaurants. This way, you’ll get a fair understanding of the cost of living in Australia and contrast it with that of the UK’s. The information is taken from the Numbeo website which uses crowdsourced data from various sources. Note that the information and averages may vary from time to time as new data is added to the website.

  • Rent: On average, rental prices in London are higher than in Sydney. For example, renting a 1-bedroom apartment within the city centre in Sydney can set you back by £1,762 ($3,408), but will cost you around £2,213 ($4,279) in London. If you rent a 1-bedroom apartment outside of Sydney’s city centre, you’ll be paying around £1,230 ($2,378) whilst a similar unit in the outskirts of London would rent for about £1,619 ($3,130).
  • Utilities: You’ll need to budget for utilities whether you plan to own or rent a home in Australia. Australia’s average internet cost is typically higher than in the UK, pegged at an average of £43 ($84) per month (for 60 Mbps or more). A similar type of connection in the UK would only cost about £31 ($57. However, when it comes to basic utilities (including electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage bills for an 85-square-metre apartment), Australia (£170 | $330) is cheaper than the UK (£289 | $559).
  • Groceries: Here, we compare the average price of a basket of groceries in Sydney and London. This basket of everyday staples includes a litre of milk, a loaf of white bread, a kilogram of rice, a dozen eggs, one kilogram each of cheese, chicken fillets, beef (round), apples, bananas, oranges, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and a head of lettuce. The average cost groceries is typically around 20.7% higher in Sydney.
  • Clothing: A pair of Levis jeans (or similar) in Australia costs around £61 ($118) and £82 ($159) in the UK. A summer dress from a retail chain like H&M or Zara would set you back by around £53 ($103) in Australia and £39 ($77) in the UK. In general, the cost of apparel in Australia and the UK varies but the gap isn’t something you’d consider extreme or too wide.
  • Transportation and fuel expenses: There appears to be a wider gap between Australia and the UK in terms of how much transportation costs on average. Although the regular price of a monthly pass in Australia costs around £116 ($225) which is lower than the UK’s £200 ($386). As at April 2024, gasoline in Australia costs £1.06 ($2) per litre, whereas in the UK, a litre is priced at £1.51 ($2.92). Also, automobiles are generally cheaper in Australia than in the UK.
  • Dining out: The cost of eating out at a restaurant in the UK or Australia doesn’t vary as much as it does with other daily expenses. A typical lunch at an inexpensive restaurant would cost you around £12.41 ($24) in Australia and £18 ($34) in the UK. A three-course dinner for two at a mid-range Australian restaurant can cost you about £62 ($120) against one priced at £80 ($154) in the UK.

Besides the cost of living, other factors you may need to consider is the quality of life offered in either country, as well as other crucial economic and demographic considerations.

Consider moving to Australia?

Whether the thought of moving has crossed your mind or whether you have already set your mind to make the move, Alecto Australia is dedicated to answering all your questions and help you find a GP job in your desired Australian city. Please contact our recruitment agency for further advice. Alecto Australia | +61 1800 604 332 | [email protected] For more information on DPA (Distribution Priority Areas), view the FAQs. Besides assisting you in finding the best GP job at the best GP practice in Australia, we also create a community that connects and supports UK GPs in Australia. Every year we organise networking events in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth where you can meet other GPs. Learn more about Alecto Connect.