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Gender pay gap widens as female doctors earn less amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

Gender pay gap widens as female doctors earn less amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

New Medscape report found that inequality in pay increased in 2020, with female doctors reporting 30% lower pay than their male counterparts


The survey also found that over 60% of doctors felt under−rewarded, and 40% would not choose medicine as a career if they could start over


London, Wednesday 21 April 2021: As the UK begins to see progress against the COVID-19 pandemic, the unprecedented impact and strain on NHS staff and doctors is just being fully assessed. A new Medscape report finds that overall UK doctors’ average earnings have fallen since the last report, and female doctors were disproportionally affected with a greater fall in pay compared to their male counterparts. More than 60% of doctors felt under-rewarded in terms of pay, according to the survey.


The Medscape UK Doctors’ Salary and Satisfaction Survey 2021 features responses from more than 1,000 doctors in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Doctors across specialties were included in the survey, with the majority working in the NHS (73%), nearly a quarter (23%) worked in both the NHS and private sector, and 4% in the private sector only. The report looks at changes in doctors’ average salaries since the last Medscape salary and satisfaction survey released in 2019.


Overall, 29% of UK doctors said their income had dropped, which compares with 17% in 2018. When doctors were asked about reasons for the decrease in their earnings, the COVID-19 pandemic was referenced multiple times. Others cited different reasons with one respondent saying, ‘Rising cost of living and frankly shoddy treatment of the entire medical profession by the Government’.


Gender pay gap widens for doctors

The survey, conducted between 10 November 2020 to 16 February 2021, suggests the gender earnings gap has increased during the pandemic, with women suffering a greater reduction in earnings. Female doctors reported a 10% reduction in earnings on average, which accounted for double that reported by male doctors, and resulted in the gender earnings gap increasing from £32,000 in 2018 to £35,000 currently.


The average earnings gap between GPs and specialists also widened with GPs reporting an average drop of £12,000 to £92,000 compared with specialists who reported an average decrease of £9,000 to £105,000. This increase in earnings disparity is reflected in how fairly rewarded for their work each feels as 66% of GPs felt under-rewarded whereas this figure was 61% for specialists. However, 34% of doctors did report a rise in earnings with career progression and enhanced private practice due to NHS shutdowns amongst common reasons cited.


Undervalued and under-rewarded

The increase in the gender earnings gap is likely to have affected satisfaction with pay for the respective genders as more female doctors (67%) felt under-rewarded for their work than male doctors (59%). When asked whether they were happy to be a doctor, one in five respondents said they were not, and twice as many (40%) said they would not pick medicine as a career if they had to start over. “Stop clapping, pay us” was a common theme amongst respondents, with a large proportion of doctors (83%) stating that working in the NHS had become harder since the pandemic.


Across the generations, pay dissatisfaction was highest in the younger Millennials (74%) than Generation X (63%), and Baby Boomers (50%). When asked what the biggest frustration with working in the NHS was, the responses included:

o    ‘Clapping being considered fair payment for working in a pandemic’

o    ‘Bullying’

o    Spineless, brainless managers’

o    ‘Burnout’


For more findings, view the full report on Medscape:

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Last Updated: 28-Apr-2021