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Commissioning leaders call for gender equality after finding one in four CCG leads is female

The leading group for commissioners has called on CCGs to address the gender imbalance on their governing bodies, which sees men taking three-quarters of the top positions. 

In a new report, NHS Clinical Commissioners recommended that CCGs assess their gender balance and develop plans to improve.

It found that 74% of CCG GP leads last year were male, despite the fact that 70% of the CCG workforce is female and women now count for 52% of all practising GPs in England. 

Remarkably, 29 CCGs (14%) had no female GP leads at all, and only 22% had three or more female GP leads.

Looking at the entire governing bodies, 63% of members were male and four CCGs did not have a single female member on their governing body.

NHS Clinical Commissioners found that one of the reasons for the disparity was unequal processes which favour men, including for example requirements of some CCGs for all governing body members to be GP partners, when 70% of the salaried GP workforce is female.

Other reasons included a lack of support for women clinical leaders.

In response, NHS Clinical Commissioners recommends that CCGs:

  • measure where they are now;
  • develop a plan to improve female representation;
  • review their appointment process to senior roles;
  • consider salaried GPs, not just partners, for decision-making roles;
  • ensure female talent is identified in succession planning;
  • conduct exit interviews with GPs resigning from CCG roles.

It also gave advice to NHS England, including women being ‘appropriately represented on national platforms and at public events’ and appointing a ’champion for women in clinical leadership’.

NHS Clinical Commissioners pledged that it would itself encourage and support women clinical leaders on its own board as well as ’consider developing a quality mark for those CCGs that actively promote female clinicians across a range of CCG clinical leadership roles’.

The report said: ’Despite increasing numbers of women in the NHS and wider health sector, representation at senior leadership level remains low. Historically, arguments in favour of greater equality have focused on fairness, however, there is now clear evidence which shows that organisations with women on their board outperform those without, especially in two key areas; financial performance and organisational excellence.

’NHS Clinical Commissioners and its membership believe that gender inequality must be urgently addressed in order to realise these benefits for CCGs.’

CCG gender imbalance

  • 63% of CCG governing members are male;
  • 74% of CCG GP leads (GPs who lead a particular workstream) are male;
  • Four CCGs have no female members on their governing bodies;
  • Only 22% of CCGs have three or more female GP leads;
  • 29 CCGs have no female GP leads at all.

Source: NHS England (2014), Clinical commissioning group workforce equality & diversity profile, including governing body members and GP leads