Top female NHS doctors earn much less than their male counterparts, BBC investigation shows

Of 100 highest paid consultants across England, only five are women 

Josie Cox
Business Editor
Friday 16 February 2018 09:27
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Doctors cited by the BBC said that some of the gap was likely attributable to male doctors more likely to be willing and able to do overtime than female doctors
Doctors cited by the BBC said that some of the gap was likely attributable to male doctors more likely to be willing and able to do overtime than female doctors

The most senior female doctors working for the NHS are earning much less than their male counterparts, a new investigation reveals.

The BBC has found that of the 100 highest paid consultants across England, only five are women and that the highest paid male consultant earns almost £740,000 per year which is two and half times more than his highest earning female counterpart. That’s despite more than a 30 per cent of the total workforce being female.

Meanwhile, full-time female consultants earn an average annual salary that’s nearly £14,000 less than what an average male consultant earns, the investigation found. That represents a pay gap of 12 per cent. Figures from the Office for National Statistics published last year showed that across all professions, the gender pay gap for full-time employees stands at 9.1 per cent in favour of men.

Doctors cited by the BBC said that some of the gap was likely attributable to male doctors more likely to be willing and able to do overtime than female doctors. Some also admitted however, that the system of rewards was unfairly weighted in favour of men, especially in terms of bonuses.

The investigation showed that six and a half times as many men as women in England and Wales get the top platinum award bonus worth £77,000 a year.

Dr Anthea Mowat, of the British Medical Association, told the BBC that women needed more support, in the form of leadership training, mentoring and more flexible working opportunities in order to close the gap.

"With women making up the majority of medical graduates in recent years, it's vitally important that we address the root causes of the gender pay gap, and develop a wider programme of work to eliminate it across the medical workforce," she said.

Under the Equal Pay Act of 1970, it is illegal in the UK to pay someone less based on their gender. Under new legislation introduced last year, all companies who employ at least 250 people must meet an April deadline for reporting their gender pay gap, broken down by pay quartile.

Research conducted by the Fawcett Society charity for women’s rights last year showed that at the current rates of progress it will take a century to close the gender pay gap across the UK.

The organisation says that much of the pay gap is down to differences in caring responsibilities, which includes women taking time out of the workforce to look after children and relatives, more women being in low-skilled and low-paid work, but also outright discrimination.

By industry, one of the largest gaps is across the financial services sector. The most recently available ONS figures show that female financial institution managers and directors earn more than 26 per cent less, on average, than men in the same job.

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