Review Into 'Unacceptable' Gender Pay Gap Among Doctors

Peter Russell

May 29, 2018

The secretary of state for health and social care for England, Jeremy Hunt, says a 15% gap between the pay of male and female doctors in the UK is not acceptable.

Mr Hunt was commenting as he announced a review to explore why too many women are failing to reach their full potential in the most senior NHS roles.

Figures show there are more male than female doctors in the NHS. Also, male doctors are paid over £10,000 more than female doctors.

Mr Hunt announced that as part of the Government's drive to tackle inequality in the workplace, Prof Jane Dacre, president of the Royal College of Physicians, will lead an inquiry into the pay discrepancy and investigate ways that gender equality can be brought about.

'I'm Determined To Eliminate This Gap': Hunt

Announcing the review, Mr Hunt said gender inequality had "no place in a modern employer or the NHS and I’m determined to eliminate this gap."

According to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the NHS had an overall gender pay gap of 23%, despite the fact that it employs more women than men. The gap is mainly attributable to the larger number of higher paid male doctors compared to women doctors in the workforce.

It said male doctors were paid on average £67,788 in basic pay, compared to the £57,569 received by female doctors.

"I am delighted to have been asked to lead on this important review into the gender pay gap of 15% in the medical workforce," commented Prof Dacre. "Previous reports and initiatives have identified many of the root causes, so there is no shortage of evidence about this unacceptable situation.

"I am grateful for the government’s commitment to act on the recommendations of the review, not just for women doctors now, but for our future workforce."

More Men Reach Higher Positions

Although over half of those entering the medical workforce are female, at the higher end of the career ladder there are more male doctors than female doctors. 

Figures show that across all hospital and community health service doctors in the NHS, there were 63,651 men compared with 52,776 women. Among consultants – including directors of public health – there were 31,290 men compared with 17,317 women. 

It is thought that women who take time out from their medical career for maternity or carer responsibilities may miss out on promotion and higher pay scales.

One area where this is a known problem is with 'Clinical Excellence Awards' which are given to consultants for improving safety and quality of care or learning practices, according to the DHSC. Recent figures show that these awards were given to 4 times as many men as women.

The figures reflect a similar analysis by Medscape UK which found that full-time male physicians earned around 56% more than their full-time female counterparts. 

The average full-time income of UK doctors who responded to the survey was £114,600. Among males, the average income was £126,400 compared with £80,600 for females.

Flexible Working, Maternity and Caring Responsibilities 

The Dacre review will investigate the obstacles that prevent women doctors reaching their full career potential. Areas covered will include:

  • Working patterns and their impact on those in the medical profession

  • The impact of motherhood on careers and progression

  • Care arrangements and their affordability, and issues around being a carer

  • Access to flexible working

  • Factors behind the low uptake of shared parental leave

  • The predominance of men in senior roles

  • The impact of Clinical Excellence Awards

  • Geographical issues

The Medical Women's Federation (MWF) welcomed the review. Its president, Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, said it was committed "to supporting women doctors in reaching their full potential by providing networking, leadership and mentoring opportunities, as well as campaigning for quality flexible working opportunities in the profession."


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