BMA calls for urgent action as report shows women doctors still being paid less than their male colleagues

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Published: Tuesday 15 December 2020
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The BMA is calling for immediate action after a government review1 showed that male doctors are still being paid more than their female counterparts.

The report shows that, based on full-time equivalent pay, female doctors in hospitals in England are paid nearly 19 per cent less than their male counterparts, female GPs are paid 15.3 per cent less and clinical academics almost 12 per cent less.

The Department of Health and Social Care’s long-awaited ‘Mend the Gap: The Independent Review into Gender Pay Gaps in Medicine in England’ was published today following an investigation chaired by Professor Dame Jane Dacre.

The review reveals the career and pay disadvantages experienced by part-time doctors and the cultural changes the profession must make to remove these. It says that ‘unless the structure of medical training and service delivery alters, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate the gender pay gap’.

The BMA, which sat on the steering group for the review, welcomes the review and many of the recommendations, and believes they should be acted on immediately.

These include:

  • extending enhanced shared parental leave to all doctors in England;
  • more NHS nurseries offering out-of-hours cover for shift work;
  • ensuring that taking a career breaks is not detrimental to career progression;
  • challenging barriers that deter women from entering certain medical specialities e.g. surgery;
  • addressing barriers that are deterring women from reaching the highest positions, for example ensuring flexibility in GP partnership;
  • equality in pay: transparency around pay and additional payments, so that women working less than full-time are not penalised in their pocket;

The BMA has also called for the immediate implementation of the recommendation that all future analysis and reporting on the gender pay gap should acknowledge, in parallel, differences in race, disability and other characteristics.

BMA representative body chair Dr Helena McKeown said:

“Paying doctors, indeed anyone, different amounts for the same job, because of their sex, has been illegal for over 45 years. And yet in effect it’s still happening in the medical profession.

“This review shows how far we still have to go before doctors are paid according to their skills, their job role and their hours, and not their gender or desire to have children.

“It’s shocking that even ten years after the Equality Act and 45 years after the Sex Discrimination Act, that the scale of the gender pay gap in the medical profession is so stark. It is an illustration of how far we still have to go to achieve equality in the profession. We must learn from this review and make sure we finally put actions into place to deal with this.

“What we have as it stands is not just bad for the medical profession, but for the wider NHS and most importantly, by extension, those we serve – our patients.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. ‘Mend the Gap: The Independent Review into Gender Pay Gaps in Medicine in England' is available here.