The health secretary wants to tackle discrepancies in the health system that see male doctors receive an average of 15 per cent more than female doctors, with basic pay of £67,788 and £57,569 respectively.
At 23 per cent, the overall pay gap for all NHS staff is still greater, despite the health service employing considerably more women than men.
The independent review will be led by Professor Jane Dacre, an honorary consultant rheumatologist and president of the Royal College of Physicians.
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 Department of Health and Social Care said the discrepancy was a result of male doctors constituting a much higher proportion of all male staff than female doctors do of total female staff.
The top medical jobs in the NHS are dominated by men, with 31,290 men holding the title of consultant, compared with 17,317 women.
More than six times as many male consultants as female consultants currently receive the top “platinum” bonus, worth £77,000 a year.
The review, which is due to conclude by the end of the year, will look at some of the barriers that stop women reaching higher pay levels, including the impact of taking time out to have and look after children. It will consider how practices, such as flexible working and shared parental leave, could be used to help level the playing field.
Professor Dacre 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.”
She added: “I am grateful for the government’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.”
The NHS records gender pay details using mean averages, whereas many organisations use median averages.
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