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GP gender pay gap ‘far higher’ than average at 33%, finds Government review

Male GPs earn 33% more than their female counterparts, according to a major review of the gender pay gap in the NHS.

Interim results from the Department of Health and Social Care-commissioned review, published today, found the gender pay gap in general practice is ‘far higher than the average in medicine’.

The results also showed a lack of women represented in senior medical grades across the NHS, with women over-represented in lower-paid specialties. 

The interim report from the review – the full findings of which will be published in September – said: ‘The general practice gender pay gap is 33% – far higher than the average in medicine.’

The report also showed:

  • Male doctors earning £1.17 for every £1 earned by female doctors in the NHS, with two in three consultants being men
  • There is a lack of women represented in senior medical grades, with nearly 32,000 male consultants to just 18,000 female
  • Although two-thirds of doctors in training grades are women the number drops to less than half in consultant grades
  • Women are over represented in lower paid specialties, such as public health and occupational health, while being under represented in the highest paying specialties including urology and surgery
  • There is variation across medical specialities, with male-dominated specialties such as urology showing a higher gender pay gap

Review lead Professor Dame Jane Dacre – former president of the Royal College of Physicians – said: ‘Our research shows that the gender pay gap in medicine is slowly narrowing, but with more to do. The findings of the review will help us to work with government, employers and the profession to identify and understand the main contributors to the gap, and to explore ways to reduce it, based on our evidence.’

BMA GP Committee sessional chair Dr Zoe Norris said: ‘Assuming that the review is comparing like for like, I think is surprising and shocking and really disappointing. There is no excuse for that gap, a GP is a GP, and from the day we qualify we are doing that job.

‘Gender should not make a difference, and if it is then I just think that is inexcusable. I would encourage all colleagues to look at what they are earning and talk openly about it with their colleagues, and make sure this is not happening.’

Health minister Stephen Hammond said: ‘The founding principle of the NHS is to treat everyone equally, yet women employed in the health service are still experiencing inequality. 

‘It’s disappointing to see that the numbers show that two thirds of senior medics are men despite more women starting training and it is essential we understand the underlying causes of the gender pay gap if we are to eradicate it from modern workplaces like the NHS. 

‘Senior doctors and managers have an important role to play in breaking down barriers and championing equality as role models or mentors so aspiring doctors know they are joining a health service that encourages more women to reach their full potential.’ 

The final review will identify the impact of cultural, practical and psychological issues that contribute to the gender pay gap in medicine.

The research, which is being conducted by gender pay expert Professor Carol Woodhams and analysts from the University of Surrey, involved an in-depth analysis of anonymised pay data, evidence obtained from interviews conducted with medics at various career stages, and an online survey of 40,000 doctors. 

Last year, NHS England published its first gender pay gap report, which found an average gender pay gap of 21% – as of 31 March 2017.

BMJ-funded research previously reported female GPs earn an average of 13% less than their male counterparts and face discrimination and sometimes ‘hostile’ working environments.