RCN calls on health secretary to dismantle notion of nursing as ‘low-paid, women’s work’

Matt Hancock used RCP speech to promise action on gender pay gap in the NHS

Matt Hancock used RCP speech to promise action on gender pay gap in the NHS

Picture: Getty

Health secretary Matt Hancock has been called on to tackle the idea that nursing is 'low-paid, women's work'.

The call comes in response to a speech Mr Hancock gave to the Royal College of Physicians in which he said the NHS must promote more job flexibility to encourage women into senior roles.

He said he would make a commitment to the one million women employed by the NHS – 80% of its workforce – to tackle the gender pay gap, in which women earn, on average, 23% less than men.

Pay inequality ‘deeply troubling’

Mr Hancock said: 'It should be deeply troubling to all of us, that the NHS gender pay gap is still 23%, that male GPs are, on average, paid a third more than female GPs and that over half of junior doctors are women, but at consultant level it's only a third.

'The gender gap is a good barometer of the health of the NHS, and it's clear we must do better.'

Responding to the comments, RCN England director Patricia Marquis said nursing too had its own gender pay gap.

Men dominate top nursing jobs

She said: 'While the health secretary challenges the lack of women in medicine, Mr Hancock must help us to shred any idea that nursing is "low-paid women's work" too.

'Nursing has its own gender pay gap – men, who make up only 10% of nurses, often take many of the top jobs in nursing.

'Pay for nursing staff should reward their skill and expertise. The profession must be shown as attractive to young women and men, and the flexibility in shift patterns that keep nurses in their job must be made a top priority.'

Digital shift rotas

In his speech, Mr Hancock also called for digital rotas across the NHS that would give staff greater freedom to manage their own time and pick up shifts to suit them.

Mr Hancock said doctors should expect rotas to be fixed a minimum of six weeks in advance in response to stories of doctors missing important personal events because of last-minute shift changes.

He also encouraged the NHS to promote flexible roles such as term-time only, job-shares and, where possible, more home working to bring the health service in line with other sectors.

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