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Money matters: Doctors vs Teachers


Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 11 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. Not everything that is old is bad. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured.

But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views might very well have changed in the 11 years since I wrote this post. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find pretty embarrassing today.
  • This post might use language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate or offensive.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

Peter Preston has posed the controversial question: “Is one doctor with three teachers?”. His article is interesting, and makes some good points about the fact that doctors should, perhaps, not complain about a pay increase when they are already far more highly paid than equivalent doctors in other European countries.

Unfortunately, hiis eponymous question is not so good: This is a comparison based on the latest doctors’ contract, comparing conslutants – the most highly paid doctors – with the average teacher. As a contrast, here’s a alternative view.

A newly qualified teacher has an average debt of £12,069. Under the latest pilot scheme, the government repays this off for them as long as they work in teaching. They are paid an average of around £22,000, plus a £5,000 bonus for sticking it out for a year. That’s £27,000. According to the Government, primary teachers work an average 39 weeks per year (38 teaching weeks, 1 admin/training week), at 37.5hrs per week (9-4.30, Mon-Fri). So they get roughly £18.46 per hour.

A newly qualified doctor has an average student debt of £15,000. Since the government doesn’t understand that working nine to five every day precludes you from doing as much part time work as being at university for fewer hours, the average student has to supplement this with £5,000 of bank loans. That adds up to a first-year repayment of £467 worth of student debts, and £538 to the bank. The starting salary for a junior doctor is £20,295. Net income (before tax): £19,290. That’s for the basic 47 weeks, at 45hrs per week (Mon-Fri, 9-6) plus variable overtime, which for argument’s sake we won’t include. That works out at £9.12 per hour: Just under half of what the teacher gets.

So the question is: Is one teacher worth two doctors?

Or, more pertinently: Are questions like this conceptually flawed and misleading?

Edit: Yes, I clearly do have some problems with maths. But I’ve corrected them now.

This 850th post was filed under: News and Comment.

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TV I’ve been watching lately (published 9th January 2018)

Woman ‘tore off ex-lover’s testicle’ (published 11th January 2005)

Robin Cook MP has died (published 6th August 2005)

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