This Facebook photo protesting the recent London underground (Tube) strikes claims that London underground drivers earn more money and have less working hours than National Health Service (NHS) doctors:

enter image description here
Alternate image with sources Train Drivers and Doctor

The claims are as follows:

London tube driver: 18 months training, £20-30k pay during training, Initial salary: £35000, 5 year salary £50-60k, average 36 hours worked per week, 5 maximum days worked in a row

Hospital doctor: Minimum 5 years training, £0 pay during training, Initial salary: £22636, 5 year salary £45000, minimum 48 hours worked per week, 12 maximum days worked in a row

Is this table factually accurate?

Similar unsourced claims can be found here.

  • 1
    The "train driver" link is not about tube train drivers. Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 11:33

1 Answer 1


The claim about hours seem to be accurate, the claim about salaries not so much.


  • The source data are for UK train drivers, not London tube drivers.
  • The doctors part of the source data does not include that London salaries are generally higher than average, which we should include when comparing to London tube drivers.
  • The chart mislabels doctor's training salary as starting salary.
  • The chart mislabels the required university degree for doctors as training.
  • The 5-year salary in the chart does not come from the same source.
  • The source has a much higher salary range for a fully qualified doctor but the chart doesn't list it.

The sources appear to be these for train driver and hospital doctor.

Neither of the source documents are specific to London, these are for hospital doctors and generic train drivers across the entire United Kingdom, not specifically London Tube drivers or London doctors. NHS employees in inner London get 20% extra pay up to a maximum of £6,342. Outer London NHS employees get 15% extra.

The chart says the "starting salary" for a doctor is £22,636 but the source says this salary is for a "junior hospital trainee". Immediately after that figure it says:

This increases in the second year of foundation training to £28,076. For a doctor in specialist training the basic starting salary is £30,002.

The chart chooses just the lowest number.

The chart considers the foundation programme to be starting work rather than training and the university degree to be training. The source consistently calls the foundation programme training.

Two-year foundation programme - you will work in clinical settings ranging from acute care to mental health. By the end of this training you will have full registration with the General Medical Council (GMC) and you will have chosen the area of medicine you want to practise.


You will be assessed throughout your training and if your skills meet the required standard, you will be awarded the Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT). This means that you will be eligible to join the GMC Specialist Register and apply for a licence to practise. For more information check the GMC website.

This also implies that you do not have a license to practice medicine until after the two-year foundation programme which makes calling the salary you earn during this time a starting salary inaccurate.

The source states directly after the starting salaries:

Doctors in training are paid extra if they work more than 40 hours or they work outside the hours of 7am to 7pm, Monday to Friday. This is usually between 20% and 50% of the basic salary.

Which suggests that some trainee doctors earn more than the basic salary.

If we consider this foundation programme to be training rather than a starting salary for a fully qualified doctor then it should be compared to the £20k - £30k training wage for a train driver. It is still possible that some trainee doctors may earn less than some train driver trainees in the first year of training but most doctors will be earning more by the second year, even if they do no overtime or unusual hours. It's worth noting that for the London Underground drivers, some shifts will start before 6am and some will end after 12pm. This BBC article says "as early as 04:45 and end as late as 01:30".

No mention is made in the chart of the higher salaries that doctors can earn.

Doctors in the specialty doctor grade earn between £37,176 and £69,325.

Consultants can earn a basic salary of between £75,249 and £101,451 per year, dependent on length of service.

Consultants working in private sector hospitals may receive higher fees.

The chart states a value for a salary at five years but this information is not included in the source. The value £45,000 does not appear in the source. The average of the specialty doctor range listed above is around £53k however it should be noted that we don't know the actual distribution within this range.

On a different page from the same site regarding GPs, the salary range is listed as between £55,412 and £83,617. The hours on that page are listed as 50.

As a full-time salaried GP, you will earn between £55,412 and £83,617 a year depending on your experience.

A lot of GPs are self-employed and have a contract as part of a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). In this role you may earn more than a salaried GP. Your income will depend on the type of services you provide for your patients and how you run your practice.

An older article lists various doctors and tube drivers salaries together.

The chart says that tube drivers earn £50k - £60k per year but the source says:

Qualified drivers can earn from £35,000 to over £60,000 a year.

Elsewhere, a specific value for top of the salary scale for tube drivers is listed as £49,673. ASLEF (the train driver's union) lists it as £48,133

Various sources state that London Tube drivers salaries do not change based on the time spent in the role.

The chart states that doctors work "min 48" hours per week however the source document says 48 hours per week in one part and the maximum is 48 hours further down the page.

European legislation has reduced the number of hours you can do to no more than 48 per week.

Tube drivers typically work 36 hour weeks but get extra time off for this being above 35 hours.

One extra thing:

I would imagine most doctors are well aware that a university degree actually has a negative value, not £0 as it costs a significant amount of money.

  • 1
    "The source has a much higher salary range for a fully qualified doctor but the chart doesn't list it." - dies the higher range apply to ALL doctors, or only to hospital-employed ones? In US, there's a definite difference between private practice and working for a govrenment-budgeted hospital
    – user5341
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 13:25
  • 9
    There is also a big salary difference between specialists and general doctors!!
    – Jose Luis
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 14:02
  • 4
    @DVK Private hospital healthcare is a relatively rare in the UK.
    – Calchas
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 21:04
  • 1
    Also, I don't think it's true that hospital doctors don't have a right to strike, for example bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-18525632 See how much wealthier "doctors" are in the opinion of the right wing press, when it's them striking: dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2160724/… Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 23:21
  • 1
    @SteveJessop the chart says "Right to strike and hold London to ransom". So it is not the right to strike in absolute that is being compared, but the effect it has on the population. That's pretty subjective, if you ask me. Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 7:50

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