Last updated:

Review of the gender pay gap in the medical profession

Sheffield children’s hospital 20 Oct 2016
Two doctors in conversation

The Department of Health and Social Care is carrying out an independent review of the gender pay gap in medicine.

The review seeks to establish a strong evidence base on the causes of the gender pay gap and develop practical recommendations to address these issues.

Read our news story

Read our blog 'At last, someone is minding the gap'

Read our blog 'Everyone benefits from closing the gender pay gap'

Read our blog 'The gender pay gap - how it affects me' by Cristina Costache

Follow @paygapsmedics and #MedPayGap

Find out more...

  • What is the gender pay gap and how does it differ from equal pay?

    The gender pay gap shows the difference between the average (mean or median) hourly earnings of all male and all female employees, expressed as a percentage of men's earnings. If an organisation has a pay gap of 15 per cent this means that women's average hourly earnings are 15 per cent less than men's.

    The gender pay gap is not the same as equal pay. Equal pay is about ensuring men and women doing similar work or work that is different but of equal value (in terms of skills, responsibility, effort) are paid the same. A gender pay gap could reflect a failure to provide equal pay but it usually reflects a range of factors, including a concentration of women in lower paid roles and women being less likely to reach senior management levels.

  • Why is a review of the gender pay gap in medicine being conducted?

    Government regulations require all public and private sector organisations to publish their gender pay gap data. However, this data measures the median hourly rate across an employer's workforce, and does not break down the data for individual staff groups - i.e. for doctors.

    In July 2016 during the junior doctors' contract dispute, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced that he would commission an independent review of the gender pay gap. However, the size of the gender pay gap in medicine has long been highlighted.

    The influential 2009 Deech report, commissioned by the Chief Medical Officer, recommended a programme of action to improve opportunities for women in medicine. Several years later, evidence of a considerable pay gap in medicine indicates that many women continue to face barriers in their careers.

  • The aim and format of the review

    The overall aim of the review is to understand the causes of the gender pay gap in medicine and to make implementable recommendations to narrow it. It covers the whole medical profession including public health doctors and medical academics in England. It is looking at the pay gap across doctors' careers and in different areas of medicine.

    The review is looking at:

    • Working patterns and their impact on those in the medical profession
    • Impact of motherhood on careers and progression
    • Access to flexible working
    • Shared parental leave and LTFT working
    • Speciality – choices and barriers
    • The predominance of men in senior roles
    • The impact of Clinical Excellence Awards and other elements of variable pay

    A steering group is overseeing the review. Initial findings were released in April 2019 and the review team will produce a final report containing its recommendations by Autumn 2019. The review is chaired by Prof Jane Dacre, immediate past president of the Royal College of Physicians and a strong advocate for gender equality in medicine.

    Representatives on the steering group include: the BMA, the Medical Women's Federation, DHSC and NHS Employers.

    A research team from the University of Surrey was appointed to analyse pay and pensions data, and also take evidence from doctors themselves. A largescale survey developed with the support of the BMA, was sent out to around 40% of the medical profession, asking doctors views about a variety of working practices and individual decisions that affect pay and medical careers.

    The initial findings of the gender pay gap review were published in April 2019. Key findings include:

    • There is a gap of 17% between the total hourly earnings of women and men hospital doctors. The gap in basic pay is lower.
    • There is a gap of 33% in general practice. (This gap is not directly comparable with the gap for hospital doctors as it is based on a comparison of annual earnings rather than full-time equivalents.)
    • Male-dominated specialities like urology and trauma and orthopaedic surgery have large gender pay gaps.
  • How is the BMA involved?

    As a key stakeholder, we are influencing the review.

    • Our representatives are having a strong influence on the steering group, which will sign off the final report and make the recommendations coming out of the review;
    • We have established an internal advisory group of doctors which is bringing the perspectives of all branches of practices into the review. This group has inputted ideas and feedback to share the review;
    • We are updating members throughout the review, including publishing a series of blogs, highlighting different aspects of the review.
  • The gender pay gap and the 2018-19 junior doctor contract review

    The BMA is currently in the process of reviewing the 2016 junior doctor contract with NHS Employers and the Department of Health and Social Care. 

    We are also a key stakeholder in the independent review of the gender pay gap in medicine.

    As part of the review of the 2016 contract, we are factoring in the key concerns and ongoing research of the gender pay gap group, such as women being under-represented in senior jobs, unequal impact of parenting responsibilities and part-time work.

    Find out more about the gender pay gap and the junior doctor contract review

  • Further information