More men are choosing to become partners at their surgeries, leading to huge disparities in earnings
This is an edited version of an article first published by the Independent
Women GPs earn an average of £40,000 a year less than their male colleagues – one of the worst gender pay gaps for any profession – according to IPPR study. Researchers largely blame the 35% pay gap on a two-tier system in which more men choose to operate as private contractors with the NHS, running their practicee as businesess.
The pay disparity can affect GPs of all ages and grades, according to a study by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). “The gender pay gap, in this day and age, is something that we, as a society, should be ashamed of, and we need to work harder to examine more closely, and address, the issues that lead to this in the medical profession,” senior GP, Dr Farah Jameel, said.
On average, a male GP earns an estimated £110,000 a year, while their female colleagues earn an estimated £70,000 – meaning women earn just 65p for every £1 earned by their male counterparts. For all NHS doctors, not just GPs, the gender pay gap is 17%; the UK average is 16.2.
One major cause is the development of the two-tier model. A partner GP can earn around £109,000 a year, on average, whilst a salaried GP earns, on average, £58,000 a year. The unequal distribution of men and women in partner and salaried contracts is a clear driver of unequal pay – researchers found almost 80% of male GPs are partners, compared with 50% of women.
“For many female doctors – many of whom will have family or caring responsibilities – working flexibly is the right thing for them, and salaried roles, at present, are able to provide a greater control over work-life balance,” Dr Jameel, a senior member of the GP committee at the British Medical Association trade union, added.
“However, partnerships, too, can offer a great opportunity for flexible ways of working, which could be positive for the recruitment and retention of women – but action must first be taken to reduce the risks that put off GPs of all genders from currently taking on this role.”
GPs have the fifth largest pay gap of any profession in the country and, while more women work part-time, women working full-time are still paid 17% less than men doing an equivalent role. “The GP pay gap is a shocking indictment of the inequality in medicine, and society more widely,” Chris Thomas, research fellow and lead author of the study, 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 government to use their majority to make sure general practice works fairly for all our hard-working medical professionals.”
Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said, “It is vital that women are not limited by glass ceilings and barriers – gender equality must be reflected across the entire profession, including within management and leadership positions, such as practice partnerships.
“If such barriers are identified, then they must be addressed.”