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Bonus for practice managers as salaries increase

11 November 2011

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Practice managers’ bonus pay has increased for the first time in five years by 13.6%, with average incomes now standing at £39,060, up from £37,800 in 2010.

Until 2011, a practice manager’s bonus pay had been steadily declining since 2007.

This rise has been chalked up due to some managers receiving a bonus payment instead of a pay increase.

According to the annual UK-wide Practice Manager Salary Survey, commissioned by First Practice Management, a practice manager’s basic pay also rose by 3.19% in 2011.

A slight rise in the number of practice managers receiving partner status of 0.5% to reach 3.5% in 2011 was also reported.

Total average earnings for those managers with partner status is £53,695, “substantially higher” than for non-partner responders, and an 11% rise from 2010.

Caroline Kerby, Joint-Lead of the NHS Alliance’s Practice Manager Network, told MiP the rises in average PM salaries may be “skewed” by more highly paid “strategic” roles being created, rather that providing a true reflection the average PM’s salary.

“While the rise in salary is welcome as it reflects the growing complexity of a practice manager’s role, the creation of new highly paid jobs may mask the very real possibility that the majority are not receiving pay rises at all,” she said.

Greater London remained the top-paying region of the UK. Average total earnings came in at £43,580, and nearly 71% of managers in the region are earning £40,000 or over.

Scotland and Northern Ireland regions were found to be the lowest paying area for practice managers, with total earnings averaging £33,125.

For smaller practices (those with less than 5,000 patients) the average manager’s income is now £32,235 (2010 – £31,570), with the largest practices (14,000 patients or more) the average is £46,770 (2010 – £46,710). Survey researchers claims this shows “little change from last year”.

Practice managers in Scotland and Northern Ireland recorded the most smaller practices than any other regions in the UK, which may account for their lower than average income.

“Although the data shows that average practice manager salaries increased in 2011, a significant number of managers reported zero pay-rises for themselves and for their staff,” said Steve Morris, General Manager at First Practice Management.

“Some have indicated that this is the third or fourth year of a pay freeze while many practices are reporting differential rises for lower paid staff and zero rise for higher earners being a common theme.”

As well as staff reduction, Morris said there is evidence some practices are looking to save costs by revising staff sick pay schemes, enforcing reductions in contractual working hours, or reducing holiday entitlements.

He claimed the “increasing changes” in general practice, coupled with “uncertainty over funding”, is likely to give way to more cost-saving measures as practices seek to balance their books.

The Salary Index used salary, bonus and geographical data analysis from the responses of more than 1,100 practice managers across the UK.