If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume you’re happy to receive all cookies from the BMA website. Find out more about cookies
When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalised web experience.
Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.
These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms.
You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.
These cookies are required
These cookies allow us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information we collect is anonymous unless you actively provide personal information to us.
If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.
These cookies allow a website to remember choices you make (such as your user name, language or the region you're in) and tailor the website to provide enhanced features and content for you.
For example, they can be used to remember certain log-in details, changes you've made to text size, font and other parts of pages that you can customise. They may also be used to provide services you've asked for such as watching a video or commenting on a blog. These cookies may be used to ensure that all our services and communications are relevant to you. The information these cookies collect cannot track your browsing activity on other websites.
Without these cookies, a website cannot remember choices you've previously made or personalise your browsing experience meaning you would have to reset these for every visit. In addition, some functionality may not be available if this category is switched off.
Our websites sometimes integrate with other companies’ sites. For example, we integrate with social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, to make it easier for you to share what you have read. These sites place their own cookies on your browser as a result of us including their icons and ‘like’ or ‘share’ buttons on our sites.
I think it is uncontroversial to say that, in general, both parents love their newborn baby equally. And despite the sleeplessness, the anxieties and the endless nappies, both parents wish to be involved in caring for their new offspring.
Clearly men cannot breastfeed, and women need time to recover from pregnancy and birth, but otherwise there are no practical differences between the investment each has in their precious newborn.
Once the baby powder has settled, most parents start thinking about how they can fit their newborn into their working lives (or vice versa) as they choose or need to return to work.
This is when the gender pay gap really begins to widen.
The very name ‘maternity leave’ conjures up an exclusively female privilege, and one problem with this is the ‘maternity penalty’. This means that after women have children they typically will be condemned in perpetuity to slower pay progression, reduced opportunities for additional earnings or career development compared to their male counterparts.
There is no corresponding ‘paternity penalty’ – in fact there is a ‘fatherhood bonus’ as men with children earn more than similar men without children, which may partly reflect the fact they are having to spend less time with their families to make up for their partners’ reduced earnings.
To address these gender inequalities and to open up more opportunities for women in work, and for men to play more of a role with their children, from 1 April 2019 the new occupational shared parental leave entitlement was introduced in the NHS. This means parents can decide who stays home with the baby, rather than being driven by the enhanced financial benefits that were provided to women on maternity leave.
There is now no financial detriment for mum and dad – or parents in any other type of family – splitting the time equally or in any other way that suits them.
But consultants and SAS doctors have been excluded by the Government from this hugely important equalities improvement. The reason given is that they have subtly different contractual arrangements around redundancy – which is clearly an entirely separate issue.
We believe that this is a fundamental right and everyone working in the NHS should be eligible for fair sharing of paid parental leave. NHS Scotland has already adopted this for their consultants and SAS doctors, with no trade-off on redundancy pay.
I had my children both during my registrar years and during my consultant years. If my partner had wanted to share my entitlement to paid leave he would now be able to do so as a registrar, but not as a consultant. This is clearly nonsense and terribly unfair – why should he, and our children, be deprived of his presence during that first year just because he became a consultant?
It’s hard enough trying to combine a consultant post with raising a young family, and there is clearly a will to fix the gender pay gap in medicine at present. The BMA continues to lobby government to change this quickly and give men and women more choice over how they manage children and careers, regardless of their seniority.
Helen Fidler is the BMA’s consultants committee deputy chair of development, communications and professionalism