Almost 1,000 GPs are earning more than £200,000 a year although average salaries have fallen, figures show.

Data from the NHS Information Centre revealed average earnings for GPs working under a contract fell for the third consecutive year to £105,300 (before tax) in 2008/09.

This includes GPs working full and part-time and covers both NHS and private work across the UK.

A breakdown of the figures showed 14,020 GPs (42%) earned £50,000 to £100,000, 12,820 (38%) earned £100,000 to £150,000 and 3,280 (10%) earned £150,000 to £200,000.

Some 700 GPs (2%) earned £200,000 to £250,000, while 250 (0.8%) earned at least £250,000, roughly the same as last year.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “While there has been an overall decrease in GPs’ earnings, we must ensure better value for money from the overall investment in the GP contract, and make sure resources are used to the greatest benefits of patients and the taxpayer.

“The coalition government recently announced a two-year pay freeze for all NHS staff earning more than £21k a year.”

She said the government was currently considering how this could be applied to groups such as GPs and dentists.

The figures also showed the rise in GP salaries over the past decade.

In 2008/09, average income before tax for GPs on a general medical services contract was £99,200 compared with £51,500 in 1998/99.

According to the Information Centre, this latter figure is equivalent to £65,900 in real terms at 2008/09 levels.

However, it said GP contracts and the nature of work has changed over that period.