28 APRIL 2016

We have reviewed the Department of Health’s Equality Analysis on the new contract for doctors and dentists in training in the NHS and concluded:

The Equality Analysis clearly identifies a number of groups who will be disadvantaged by the new contract.  These are groups which are disproportionately represented by women, including part-time workers, women taking maternity leave, carers, those specialties dominated by women, single parents and those who do not have informal childcare support to rely on at weekends.

The Equality Analysis goes on to justify this unequal impact by referring to the increase in basic pay and the new working hours.  But we do not consider these to be of comparable or equal value to offset the disadvantage experienced by those women the Government has identified. That is for women doctors themselves to determine.

Furthermore the Equality Analysis suggests that the contract changes proposed will exacerbate rather than narrow the gender pay gap in the profession.  This undermines the Government’s stated aim of closing the gender pay gap.

We are particularly concerned by the phrase “Any indirect adverse effect on women is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.”  The document then goes on to say these adverse effects can be “comfortably justified”.

We do not consider knowingly exacerbating gender inequality to be in any way proportionate or legitimate, nor can this be “comfortably justified” and we take issue with the Department of Health’s conclusion.

Commenting Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society said:

“In recent years we have seen a significant increase in the number of women entering the medical profession and the majority of junior doctors are now women.  This progress is likely to be reversed if this contract is implemented.

“We have also heard some commentators criticising the ‘feminisation’ of the doctors’ profession.  This dismisses the incredible contribution made to the NHS by its majority female work force . Women in the NHS are not the problem. The problem is the lack of feminisation of the contract.”