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On average, a female hospital doctor will earn 18% less than her male colleagues. There seem to be a huge number of factors behind this, but whatever the reasons, the gender pay gap in medicine is undeniably an embarrassment to the NHS and needs closing.
In the last few weeks, 40% of the medical profession in the UK will have received an invitation to take part in a survey about the gender pay gap in medicine. This 40% have been randomly selected from the GMC Register to ensure we ask as diverse a range of doctors as possible about their experiences throughout their careers; the decisions they’ve made, and the effect these have had on their careers.
As juniors, these decisions are being made every day, and so our perspectives will provide the most contemporaneous information it is possible to get - that is why it’s so important that regardless of your gender, if you have been selected to fill in the survey, you take the 15 minutes to complete it.
Alongside huge amounts of quantitative research and interviews with doctors from a range of specialties and career stages, the results of this survey will feed into the gender pay gap in medicine review that is currently underway, led by Prof Dame Jane Dacre and the University of Surrey research team. This independent review was set up by the Department of Health in July 2016, during the junior doctors’ contract dispute; but the gender pay gap in medicine is certainly nothing new.
In 2009, the Deech Report was published, recommending a programme of action to improve opportunities for women in medicine. Sadly, nearly a decade on, women still face barriers to progression throughout their careers, and that is why this review is so vital.
The BMA has played an integral part in this work which encompasses doctors from all branches of practice, and across levels of training and experience. We have worked hard to represent our membership in all the discussions and will continue to do so, particularly as we come towards the stage of using the evidence we have to create realistic, deliverable and most importantly, effective recommendations to help us close that 18% pay gap.
But to do this, we need your help. Please, if you have been sent the survey (and do check your junk mail folders!), fill it in and share your experiences. We need a clear picture of the profession as a whole, and your input is vital in providing us with that, and making this review as effective as possible in terms of the long-term benefits for not only women, but our entire profession.
Dr Hannah S Barham-Brown is a GP trainee in Yorkshire and a BMA council member