Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Living Wage

Are medical organisations leading by example on pay?

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 13 October 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5387
  1. Paul Teed, emergency medicine doctor, Gloucestershire,
  2. Margaret McCartney, general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. Correspondence to: P Teed paulteed{at}

Public Health England has said that all large organisations should pay the living wage. Paul Teed and Margaret McCartney investigate whether medical organisations have taken its advice

Socioeconomic inequalities continue to be related to differences in health outcomes, as the Marmot review showed in 2010.1 Insufficient income is associated with worse outcomes across virtually all domains of health, including long term health and life expectancy.2

Kate Pickett, professor of epidemiology at York University, has argued that the single best action to reduce health inequalities is to implement the living wage. In the UK, the living wage—the hourly rate of income needed to enjoy a basic, socially acceptable standard of living—is currently £7.85 (€10.70; $12) an hour, rising to £9.15 an hour in London.3

Pickett says that paying a living wage would help to address “in-work poverty,” reduce income inequality, provide an incentive to work, and enhance health and wellbeing.4 Public Health England’s report on the living wage recommends that large employers should lead by example and pay a living wage to all directly employed staff and, where appropriate, contracted staff.

The Living Wage Foundation has over 1000 organisations accredited as living wage employers.3The list of health related organisations accredited includes the colleges (or equivalent) representing nurses, radiographers, physiotherapists, midwives, social workers, and podiatrists.5 NHS Wales and NHS Scotland recently upgraded their wage scales so that the lowest banding for staff is at least the living wage but they are not …

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