Senior medical leaders have criticised the Government’s ‘unacceptable’ admission that the new junior doctors contract will have a disproportionate impact on women.
The Department of Health’s equality impact assessment, which was published along with the contract last week, suggests that ‘any indirect adverse effect on women is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate end’.
The assessment notes that doctors could face footing the bill for increased cost of childcare during evenings and weekends and suggests that single mothers would be hit hardest — but health leaders say the language used is ‘incompatible’ with women being supported to work in the NHS.
Jane Dacre and Clare Marx, presidents of the Royal College of Physicians of London and the Royal College of Surgeons of England, expressed their concerns.
In a joint statement, they said: ‘We are very concerned by the language in the Government’s own equality analysis of the contract, which warns that features of the new contract “impact disproportionately on women”.
‘Recent commitments from Government to support women in business are greatly welcome.
'We view the wording of the equality analysis as incompatible with this approach.’
Their concerns were shared by Royal College of GPs chair Maureen Baker, who said: ‘I’ve always been incredibly proud of our NHS — general practice in particular — for being streets ahead of the corporate world and being true leaders in terms of gender inequality, so anything that threatens this must be taken very seriously.’
BMA junior doctors committee chair Johann Malawana, pictured, said the admission was another example of how the Government had ‘mishandled the whole process’ of the contract negotiations.
Dr Malawana said: ‘Throughout negotiations, the Government failed to give proper consideration to whether the new contract treats all staff equally — despite our repeated concerns.
'By next year, the majority of doctors in the NHS will be women, yet the Government admits that aspects of the new contract will disadvantage them, with no consideration as to exactly what impact it will have or how this might be reduced.
‘It is unacceptable for the Government to have so little regard for the impact on a workforce rightly celebrated for its diversity, and is yet another example of how they have mishandled the whole process.’
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