NHS Gender Pay Gap: A Guide

Gender Pay Gap

On 18th April 2018 the BBC announced that the highest paid doctors in Scotland are mostly men. Knowledge that an NHS gender pay gap exists is not new, but it is not surprising the picture is becoming clearer now.

As of this year, companies and public bodies with over 250 employees are required to report their gender pay gap to the Government Equalities Office, with the deadline of 4th April 2018. They must also include the proportion of men and women who receive bonuses and a breakdown of pay quartiles by gender.

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What is the NHS Gender Pay Gap?

The gender pay gap is a measure of the difference between average hourly earnings of men and women. It is different from unequal pay, which is when men and women are paid different amounts for the same role – this has been illegal since 1970.

With over 1.6 million staff, the NHS is the largest single employer in the UK. One of the difficulties with interpreting data on the gender pay gap for the NHS is that each trust and organisation will report independently, so collating this information and drawing broad conclusions takes significant time and research.

According to the Guardian of 220 NHS organisations reporting their data, 201 (92%) report a pay gap in favour of men, ranging from 0.1% difference in median hourly pay at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals to 52.5% at Health Education England. 8 organisations reported no difference and 11 reported a difference in favour of women.

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How Many Women are Working in the NHS?

Women make up over 77% of the NHS workforce. There are more women working as nurses employed by NHS England than there are men in every category combined. However, there is a relatively greater number of women in lower pay grades than there are in higher, and women are routinely underrepresented in leadership positions (Appleby, 2018).

From FOI requests by the BBC we know that of the top 100 earning consultants in England, just five are women. In Scotland, 15 out of 100 of the highest-paid consultants are women. On average, full-time women consultants earned nearly £14,000 a year less than men – a pay gap of 12%.

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Why is There an NHS Gender Pay Gap?

Breaking down the type of pay explains the discrepancies a little. Men working as consultants only receive slightly more in basic pay than women, to the tune of £1,500 a year. The remaining difference is largely due to “additional pay”. This is most likely overtime, additional work and awards.

For clinical excellence awards in 2017, 318 successful applicants shared payments worth £14m. Only 20% of these were women. Women are just as likely to be successful if they apply, but for whatever reason, they apply in much lower numbers.

In the future we can expect to see much deeper analysis of the NHS gender pay gap, especially as annual reporting comes into play. There is much left to be said both about doctors and about the broader health workforce, and research on this may prove relevant to future discussions on the culture of medicine and gendered inequality.

This article and NHS gender pay gap data discuss gender in binary terms. I acknowledge that these terms do not accurately describe all members of NHS staff, they have been used merely as a practicality.

Words: Riley Botelle

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