A review has been launched to eliminate the gender pay gap in medicine, which sees male doctors paid over £10,000 more than their female counterparts.
Male doctors receive an average £67,788 in basic pay, compared with £57,569 for female doctors – a difference of £10,219 or 15 per cent.
The NHS has an overall gender pay gap of 23 per cent despite the fact that it employs far more women than men.
This is because the number of highly-paid male doctors is a much bigger proportion of the male NHS workforce than female doctors are of the female workforce.
To tackle this inequality, England’s Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt has launched an independent review to be led by top doctor Professor Jane Dacre.
Reasons why there are more men at the top of the career ladder in medicine include that taking time out for maternity or carer responsibilities can affect the opportunities women get for career or pay progression, as consultant training takes time and pay progression rates are based on time served.
It may also be affecting reward payments for work done in addition to core roles.
Recent figures have shown that Clinical Excellence Awards – given to consultants for improving safety and quality of care or learning practices – are awarded to four times as many men as women.
Mr Hunt said: “The NHS holds a unique position in both British and global society as a shining beacon of equality among all, and so it is unacceptable that 70 years from its creation its own staff still face gender inequality.
“Even today, there remains a 15 per cent gap between the pay of our male and female doctors – this has no place in a modern employer or the NHS and I’m determined to eliminate this gap.
“I’m delighted Jane Dacre – one of the most highly respected female medics in the NHS – has agreed to lead this important review and is perfectly placed to examine the barriers that stop our talented female doctors climbing to the top rung in the NHS career ladder.”
The review will consider the obstacles that stop female doctors progressing their NHS career in the same way as their male counterparts and look at issues such as the impact of motherhood on careers and progression, access to flexible working, shared parental leave, working patterns, and care arrangements and their affordability.
Prof Dacre, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “I am delighted to have been asked to lead on this important review into the gender pay gap of 15 per cent in the medical workforce.
“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 g overnment’s commitment to act on the recommendations of the review, not just for women doctors now, but for our future workforce.
“Over 50 per cent of medical school entrants are women, and we owe it to them and their future commitment to the NHS to ensure they are treated fairly.”
While the review will focus on the medical profession, it is expected to have wider implications for the rest of the NHS.