Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Feature Data Briefing

The gender pay gap in the NHS

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 09 April 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k1541

Rapid Response:

Re: The gender pay gap in the NHS

I was interested to read this article on the ongoing gender pay gap within the NHS - those of us who work within it may not be surprised. Statistics published last year ( showed that female doctors earned 34% less than their male counterparts in 2016. There are undoubtedly a number of reasons for this, not least because it is women who are the ones who take time out to go on maternity leave, and also tend to be those who go down to working less than full time (LTFT).

While this may be a choice, it is also a choice which society expects of women. And with more women than men taking time out of work for childcare, perhaps it is time for society to value the impact that this free childcare has upon its overall ability to function as it does. Perhaps if we enforced split maternity and paternity leave then giving childcare at home would become more valued. Under the new junior doctor contract women are not entitled to incremental pay increases, which means that their overall earning potential and subsequently their pensions will be less than men who do not take this time out of work. This indirect discrimination has a knock-on effect of less women being in senior positions, and therefore there being less female role models for young female doctors to look up to.

I propose that for this modern workforce to work, where 77% of the workforce is made up of women within the NHS, we would do well to remember this and to not disadvantage women who have taken time out to have children and may therefore miss out on the career progression required in order to gain job promotions... and the accompanying pay rises.

Competing interests: No competing interests

16 April 2018
Rebecca C Stout