The top-earning doctors in Scotland are overwhelmingly men, with just 15 out of the top 100 highest-paid consultant posts held by women.
Freedom of Information (FoI) data suggested just two of Scotland’s NHS health boards had as many as three women among their top ten highest-paid medics. All 14 NHS regional health boards were asked to provide the information, but four did not reply or would not provide a breakdown. NHS Orkney, NHS Fife and NHS Tayside said they risked identifying individual consultants if they provided the information. NHS Western Isles did not respond.
Among the remaining ten health boards, NHS Ayrshire and Arran and NHS Borders appeared to have no female doctors in the top ten highest earner category, while NHS Highland and NHS Shetland had three women each in the top jobs.
The British Medical Association said the medical workforce was almost equal in gender numbers but women remained under-represented in senior roles. It called for more support for women and flexibility in career progression.
The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh said historically there were very few female consultants but that was slowly changing. The Scottish FoI, which was obtained by the BBC, showed that the earnings of the highest-paid senior doctors varied across health boards from £285,000 in NHS Ayrshire and Arran to £139,000 in Shetland.
They were spread among many different medical disciplines, with general surgery and anaesthetics particularly well represented. Glasgow has just one female consultant among its top ten highest-paid but she was the top earning medic in the health board. Her speciality was not revealed in order to protect her identity.
The data pointed to a small differential in the average basic pay, with men being paid about £93,790, up to 4 per cent more than women.
However, this widened to almost 20 per cent when overtime and bonuses were included.
Dr Vanessa Mackay, a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology, said some of the reason for fewer women reaching senior leadership positions could be attributed to the fact that traditionally more men were doctors.
She added: “If that is the simple reason then we should see a rapid decline in the gender pay gap with some specialties quoting between 30 per cent and 60 per cent female staff on the middle grade, just down from consultant level.”
Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs said: “What is especially encouraging is in Scotland we have more females studying medicine than males, which bodes well for the future.”