- 17 May 2021
- 4 min read
The Consultant Doctor Salary and Pay Guide
This brief guide examines how consultants' pay compares to doctors' pay, and how they earn it.
Topics Covered In This Article
Consultants are essentially very senior doctors.
They’ve completed full medical training in a highly specialised area of medicine and are therefore listed on the General Medical Council’s specialist register.
In addition to five years of medical school, it takes around six to eight years to become a Consultant Doctor.
So it’s hardly surprising that consultants command so much respect from healthcare professionals and the wider public.
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But when it comes to pay, how does a consultant’s salary compare to other doctors’ salaries?
This guide will examine these and many more questions surrounding the pay of Consultant Doctors.
What Is The Average Salary For A Consultant Doctor?
A Consultant Doctor working in the NHS earns a basic salary of around £95,000 to £100,000 a year on average.
This is based on the fact that all consultants earn a salary of between £82,096 and £110,683 year, depending on years of service.
Private consultant salaries are virtually impossible to find an average for – primarily because the vast majority of Consultant Doctors work in the NHS.
You can browse Consultant Jobs here.
What Is The Starting Salary For A Consultant Doctor?
The starting salary for a Consultant Doctor in the NHS is currently £82,096 a year.
Privately, a starting salary is impossible to pinpoint.
Do Consultant Doctors Earn More Than Other Doctors?
It’s often asked whether Consultant Doctors earn more than other types of Doctors, and the answer isn’t straightforward.
Consultant Doctors naturally earn significantly more than Junior Doctors – who are training to become specialists of one type or another.
But compared to GPs, Consultant Doctors might earn more – or less.
That’s because GP salaries are often less transparent.
Many GPs are so-called GP Partners, which means they effectively run their own businesses.
These GPs can earn less than Consultant Doctors, but when their practices perform especially well they can also earn more.
You can find out exactly how GP salaries work in our GP Salary and Pay Guide.
Consultant Doctors earn more than so-called Specialty Doctors or Associate Specialists, who typically have less experience.
Indeed, many Specialty Doctors later become Consultant Doctors.
How Can Consultant Doctors Increase Their Earnings?
Consultant Doctors have the option to apply for local or national Clinical Excellence Awards.
If successful, this results in extra pay to reward going above and beyond basic job requirements.
It’s also reasonably common for Consultant Doctors to take on extra responsibilities, through education and management, which result in salary increases too.
With demand for private healthcare services increasing in the UK, this can be a very lucrative option.
Are Consultant Doctors Happy With Current Salary Rates?
Overall, there is a lot of discontent with salaries for Consultant Doctors.
The British Medical Association (BMA), the official professional body and trade union for doctors, estimates that many consultants in England have seen their wages drop in real terms by as much as 28.6% since 2009.
This is largely because of inflation.
Will Consultant Doctor Salaries Increase In The Future?
In 2020, Consultant Doctor salaries were given a 2.8% boost which was greeted with muted enthusiasm.
However, in 2021 the proposed increase is the well-publicised 1%.
Given the sacrifice and efforts made during the pandemic by frontline staff, this increase has been heavily criticised.
The BMA has recommended an increase of 5% instead, and it remains to be seen whether the government will change course.
Whatever the outcome, the pay squeeze currently faced by consultants is likely to push more towards the private sector.
Currently, very few Consultant Doctors work entirely in the private sector.
But with NHS waiting lists growing ever longer and demand for private healthcare increasing, opportunities abound for consultants.
Nonetheless, limitations remain.
Many types of treatments and surgeries can’t be performed privately, for example.
The best outcome for patients and consultants alike would be improved salaries in the NHS.