UK government to cut gender pay gap in medicine

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By Caribbean News Global fav

LONDON, England – The health and social care secretary, on Tuesday, committed to tackling the gender pay gap among doctors, by making the National Health Service (NHS) a more equal place to work, as an independent report finds structural barriers are the main reason for pay disparities.

“The first review of its kind found the gender pay gap between men and women in medicine is highest for hospital doctors, with female doctors earning 18.9 percent less an hour when adjusted for contracted hours. The report also found the disparity in medicine is considerably higher than other professions – the gap being 2 percent for accountants and 8 percent for teachers”, according to the final report.

The department of health and social care, in a press release, said: “The government will establish an Implementation Panel to help address the structural barriers outlined in the report, look at driving forward the review’s recommendations, with members including gender pay experts and representatives from across the health service.”

The report outlines a range of recommendations to make senior roles more accessible to women and help close the gap, to the benefit of the workforce as a whole. These include:

  • Reducing pay points within pay scales, so it takes less time for people to reach the top, and encourage greater pay transparency in general practice;
  • Promoting flexible working, with jobs advertised as flexible unless there is a strong justification not to, helping to improve work-life balance and make the NHS the best place to work;
  • Restructuring part-time training to focus on competency rather than time served, reducing disproportionate long-term career penalties for women who are more likely to go part-time.

Minister for Care Helen Whately said: “Now more than ever, our NHS needs talented doctors providing top-quality care for patients and I thank Professor Dame Jane Dacre for her vital work. Making workplaces better for women is something I am passionate about. All too often women continue to face barriers that make it harder to succeed at work.

“We will all lose out if talented women feel unable to continue working in healthcare – promising carers ended early and vital expertise and experience lost at a time when we need it more than ever. I’m redoubling my efforts to work with the profession to remove the barriers stopping people from achieving their full potential. I want the NHS to be a truly diverse and inclusive employer.”

The report sets out in full for the first time the causes of the pay gap, citing inflexible career and pay structures in medicine as creating barriers, especially for women with caring commitments, which leads to pay penalties for lower levels of experience and less favourable career paths.

The report also finds that although the pay gap has narrowed over time, progress is slow and women will continue to face disadvantages unless action is taken.

In addition, the report highlights the need for further research into the ethnicity pay gap in the NHS, looking at both the medical workforce and those on the Agenda for Change contract.

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

Professor Carol Woodhams said: “The gender pay gap in medicine is large in comparison to other professions. The good news is that by making changes to some of the structural pillars that support typical medical careers, over time this will be reduced. Our report provides a road map to achieve this.”

The evidence presented in the report outlines the main causes of the gender pay gap in medicine. These include:

  • Periods of part-time working to have children or to undertake caring responsibilities have long-term implications for women’s career and pay trajectories, reducing their experience and slowing down or stalling their progress to senior positions;
  • Medical structures make it difficult for women to combine motherhood with a career in medicine. It takes women in medicine up to 35 years to close the gender pay gap after having children, compared with around 15 years for graduates in other professions in the UK;
  • Married women doctors earn nearly 30 percent less than married men doctors, and this gap increased to over 32 percent for those with current or former NHS doctor partners, with women more likely to undertake childcare or make sacrifices to accommodate their partner’s career;
  • Male doctors are more likely to be older, have more experience and hold more senior positions. Two-thirds of doctors in training grades are women but within consultant grades, this drops to under half.

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