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

A major source of gender pay disparity for NHS consultants arises from the Clinical Excellence Awards. Women are one third of the consultant work force but both in 2016 and 2017 received only 20% of all awards, loaded mainly by bronzes, receiving only 12% of the higher awards (ref GOV.UK/clinical excellence awards 2016 and 2017).

There is considerable regional variation. In the Department of Health, women have received half of the awards. At the other extreme is Yorkshire and Humberside where women received only 7 of the 60 awards in the last 2 years. In that region St James Leeds is the major hospital and of its 900 or so consultants 29% are women.

These statistics are crude as they do not take into account the number of years that the consultants have been eligible for an award and they overestimate the base population of men available for awards as they include the greater number of men already in receipt of an award and therefore not eligible. Numbers are also skewed by some specialties receiving a greater share of awards.

A further source of disparity is the need to gain enough points locally in order to be considered for a national award and it is likely that in this more closed system, distortions are more likely.

During my time in the NHS, I was a member of a Regional Higher Awards Committee and was aware that tribalism and personal regard and not just clinical excellence influenced the recommendations.

I believe that the fairest way of dealing with this disparity is for women to be given a set quota of awards for consideration separate from the men.

Competing interests: No competing interests

17 April 2018
Oscar W. Hill
NHS Consultant retired