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Gender pay gap in general practice is 35%, report finds—owing to age, working hours, and partnerships

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m112 (Published 10 January 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m112
  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

Female GPs earn an average of £40 000 (€47 000; $52 000) a year less than their male colleagues, an analysis of official NHS workforce data has found.1

A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said that a male GP earned an estimated £110 000 a year on average, while female GPs earned an estimated £70 000. This represents a gender pay gap of 35% among GPs, which is the fifth largest pay gap of any UK profession as a percentage and is significantly higher than the overall NHS average pay gap of 17%, the think tank said.

The report said that the difference was due primarily to three factors. Firstly, female GPs were more likely to work part time, working on average an estimated 0.69 full time equivalent, whereas men worked on average 0.89 full time equivalent. Secondly, female GPs also tended to be younger: 35% were under 40, compared with only 22% of male GPs.

But, although these trends were true in medicine more widely, the report said that the key difference within general practice was the partnership model. The analysis found that, while almost 80% of male GPs were partners, less than 50% of female GPs were. On average, GP partners earned £109 000 a year, whereas salaried GPs—who were twice as likely to be women—earned an average of £58 000 a year.

The report warned that the “unequal distribution of men and women in partner and salaried contracts is a clear driver of unequal pay.”

Chris Thomas, lead author and a research fellow at the IPPR, said, “As it stands, the general practice pay gap is the equivalent of a woman GP working for free between the August bank holiday weekend and Christmas. The onus is on the government to use their majority to make sure general practice works, fairly, for all our hardworking medical professionals.”

Clare Gerada, former chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners and a member of the IPPR’s Better Health and Care Advisory Panel, said, “We need the talents of all GPs regardless of gender, race, or background to be embraced if we are going to address the GP workforce crisis and deliver high quality care for all.”

The findings come ahead of the NHS gender pay gap review, led by the former Royal College of Physicians president Jane Dacre, which is due to report early this year. Dacre previously told The BMJ that the review would be about “finding the root cause of a problem and making recommendations to narrow the gap over time.” It will look at all specialties.2

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