First Practice Management is an information and support resource for GP practice managers. Each year it conducts an annual Practice Manager Salary Survey which, this year, has found that the gender pay gap is widening in practice management, stretching to 15%. Practice Business spoke with Beth McCormack, content engagement lead at First Practice Management to understand the realities of pay and conditions in 2018 – and what practice managers are hoping for in 2019
Gender pay-gap increases
This year the results of the First Practice Management’s Practice Manager Salary Survey revealed that the gender pay gap in practice management roles is at its widest point since it became an indicator in 2016. The findings show that, in 2018, men earned on average 15% more than women working in the same roles, says
The result is surprising, considering previous survey results suggested that the gender pay gap had been improving; in 2017 it had narrowed to 7.7%, down from 10.18% in 2016.
New legislation makes it a duty for all companies employing 250 or more staff to publish the gender pay differences within their organisations – but there is no such requirements within the NHS. It is difficult to compare practice manager salaries directly as the role can change depending on practice size and the responsibilities required, but it is clear from the findings that there is a difference in pay that is a cause for concern as we head into 2019.
Average salary falls
The survey found that the average practice manager salary fell by £1,000 this year. There could be several reasons for this but one major factor that must be considered is the cost of living increase and high inflation. If inflation rises too high too quickly, average salary is not an accurate reflection of what the typical rate of pay for practice management should be.
In September 2018 it was reported that British workers are facing a renewed wage squeeze after inflation jumped, unexpectedly, to a six-month high. The Consumer Prices Index rose by 2.7%, year-on-year, in August, up from 2.5% in July; the City had expected a drop to 2.4%. Higher clothing prices, transport bills and recreation costs all combined to push the cost of living up at a faster pace.
The survey also reveals that higher practice manager salaries were directly related to partnerships or profit share schemes. Overall, newer practice managers reported that their starting salaries were reasonable, on the whole, but that reward did not rise with experience.
Only 26.9% of respondents received a bonus, a slight increase from the 25.2% reported last year and 21.8% in 2016.
Regular, unpaid overtime is still very common among practice managers. Many respondents felt that their salary would be fair without the extra hours, or if overtime were taken into account and paid at an appropriate rate; unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
Some PMs who took part in this survey commented that their practices recognised these issues, but there was no money available to reward the increasingly complex nature of the role. This is a situation that’s likely to become more complex as practice mergers and larger list sizes become increasingly common.
An ongoing frustration for practice managers is the lack of consistency across salaries. There are calls among practice managers for a more structured framework – similar to the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) scales – where pay corresponds directly to different skills and responsibilities.
Respondents noted that salaries are consistently lower for practice managers in primary care than for similar roles in the private sector or secondary care. It is apparent that a new system of determining salaries is needed as, year-on-year, there are consistent discrepancies.