NHS gender pay gap must close, warns Hancock

26 Apr 19

The health secretary has warned “things must change” to eliminate the NHS’s gender pay gap.

Matt Hancock told conference delegates on Thursday that a “culture of transparency” is crucial to tackling the issue of gender pay within the NHS.

In a speech at the Royal College of Physician’s annual conference, Hancock noted that 77% of NHS employees – more than a million people – are women. But, he said, the gender pay gap remains at 23% – a fact that should be “deeply troubling” to everyone.

Hancock suggested that too few women are reaching senior roles within the health service.

He said: “Over half of junior doctors are women, but, at consultant level, it’s only a third. Women are under-represented as surgeons and over-represented in lower-paid specialities.

“The gender pay gap is a good barometer of the health of the NHS. It’s clear things must change, and I’m determined to change them.”

Hancock said “we need a culture of transparency in pay, promotion and reward if we’re going to close the gender pay cap”.

The former culture minister claimed that, at board level, the NHS needs to recruit 500 more women to achieve gender balance across the service. To do so, the government will work with multiple agencies to develop specific training programmes to help more women into these roles. 

The health secretary identified flexible working as another way in which women can be enabled to move up the NHS career ladder, even when they have children and caring responsibilities.

He said: “All trusts must expand digital rotas and develop tech-enabled in-house staff banks. Better tech across the board in the NHS can help support more flexible, more modern working, and allow for a better work-life balance.”

Hancock concluded by taking aim at issues of bullying, harassment and sexism within the NHS, saying that the NHS needs to create “a more compassionate culture”. He added that Baroness Dido Harding is developing the first-ever ‘NHS People Plan’, which will have compassion at its heart.

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