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Gender pay gap continues in medicine with men dominating consultant positions

The continued dominance of men in senior medical positions is one of the main causes of the gender pay gap in medicine, an NHS review led by a UCL academic reveals.

Male doctors are earning £1.17 for every £1 earned by female doctors in the NHS, the review shows, with new data revealing two in three consultants are men.

The Gender Pay Gap in Medicine Review, led by Professor Dame Jane Dacre, is the largest examination of gender pay data ever conducted in the public sector, and was commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care in April 2018 to advise on action to deliver improved gender equality in the NHS.

“Our research shows that the gender pay gap in medicine is slowly narrowing, but with more to do. The findings of the review will help us to work with government, employers and the profession to identify and understand the main contributors to the gap, and to explore ways to reduce it, based on our evidence,” said Professor Dacre.

Promoting a culture of respect, equality and diversity will be at the heart of the workforce implementation plan, which will be set out later this year as part of the next phase in delivering the NHS Long Term Plan.

The interim update from the Review team shows the gender pay gap for doctors is 17% based on their total pay, a large contributor to the overall 23% NHS pay gap.

The review’s preliminary findings reveals the full extent of the gender pay gap, which the Government is committed to tackling:

  • Women are not yet represented in equal proportions in senior medical grades, with nearly 32,000 male consultants to just 18,000 female
  • The General Practice gender pay gap is 33% – far higher than the average in medicine
  • Two thirds of doctors in training grades are women, but within consultant grades this drops to under half
  • Women are over-represented in lower paid specialties, for example Public Health and Occupational Health, but under-represented in the highest paying specialties, such as urology and surgery
  • Variation across medical specialities, with male dominated specialties such as urology, demonstrating a higher gender pay gap.

The full review to be published later this year is expected to address underlying causes of these disparities, such as the impact of motherhood and women’s career progression while working irregular hours or part-time.

Health Minister, Stephen Hammond said: “The founding principle of the NHS is to treat everyone equally, yet women employed in the health service are still experiencing inequality.

“It’s disappointing to see that the numbers show that two thirds of senior medics are men despite more women starting training and it is essential we understand the underlying causes of the gender pay gap if we are to eradicate it from modern workplaces like the NHS.

“Senior doctors and managers have an important role to play in breaking down barriers and championing equality as role models or mentors so aspiring doctors know they are joining a health service that encourages more women to reach their full potential.”

Professor Dacre, former President of the Royal College of Physicians, was invited to chair the review, with the research being undertaken by Professor Carol Woodhams, an expert in gender pay, alongside a team of analysts and researchers from the University of Surrey.

Dr Helena McKeown, BMA representative body acting chair, commented: “It is fantastic to see more women choosing medicine as a career but the lack of representation among consultants, GP partners and in some of the higher-paying specialties, which is reflected in the gender pay gap, shows there is some way to go before parity is achieved.

“We need to look at career pathways, reward and recognition structures and workplace culture to make sure that women doctors are able to achieve their potential in the profession and individuals are not unfairly penalised for taking time out when they have children, taking on other caring responsibilities or working less than full time.”

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