Black doctors in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) are paid on average almost £10,000 a year less and black nurses £2,700 less than their white counterparts, the biggest study of earnings by ethnicity has found. The Guardian reports that the revelations, based on analysis of 750,000 staff salaries in the NHS in England, prompted claims of racial discrimination.
Black female doctors earn £9,612 a year less and black male doctors £9,492 a year less than white ones, the research exercise by NHS Digital, the service’s statistical arm, found. Black female nurses and midwives earn £2,700 a year less and black male nurses and midwives £1,872 a year less. Black personnel – those who defined themselves as black/African/Caribbean/black British – are also paid much less than white colleagues across the entire range of roles performed in the health service, NHS Digital found.
Black men working in the NHS across all job types earn £5,796 less than white peers and £7,272 less than the average male pay. The equivalent gaps for black women are much smaller but still visible, at £1,980 and £2,172 respectively.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the chair of the British Medical Association, the doctors’ union, is quoted in the report as saying: “BME doctors make up more than a third of the medical workforce and play a vital role, day in day out, delivering care to patients across the country. Yet these figures confirm that they, alongside wider NHS staff, continue to face unacceptable barriers, penalties and discrimination in the health service.
“It cannot be right that in 21st-century Britain there are such wide gaps in pay between white and BME doctors when, irrespective of their background, they hold positions to deliver the same care to patients.”
The report says the 750,000 staff whom NHS Digital examined ranged from porters to neurosurgeons. It broke down the findings only for doctors, nurses/midwives and managers, and not for each of the 300 or so job roles in the NHS.
The Royal College of Nursing said the pay gaps were “enormous” and underlined the “appalling” under-representation of people from minority ethnic backgrounds in senior NHS roles. Donna Kinnair, the RCN’s acting CEO said in the report: “As a black woman who spent a career in NHS nursing, nobody feels stronger about this than me. For the first time these figures show the shocking scale of the challenge we face to ensure BAME staff are represented at every level of our healthcare system.
“The enormous pay gaps highlighted here reflect the appalling lack of diversity at senior levels in the NHS. BAME staff make up 25% of NHS workforce, yet this dwindles to just 7% of senior managers. This lack of diversity means the NHS leadership fails to reflect the population it serves.”
It is the second recent study to identify a substantial pay gap between white and minority ethnic doctors, the report says. According to the findings of Professor John Appleby, of the Nuffield Trust think-tank, published this month, white consultants (senior hospital doctors) are paid on average £4,664 a year more than those from any sort of BME background, not just of black origin.
The NHS is already under fire for widespread gender pay gaps. Ministers have commissioned Professor Jane Dacre, the president of the Royal College of Physicians, to investigate. Her report is due in early 2019.
According to the report, the BMA said the stark differentials in pay were part of a general pattern of unfair treatment of minority ethnic doctors. “BME doctors are continuing to suffer from other forms of discrimination. They’re more likely to face referral to the General Medical Council, are more likely to have their cases investigated and are more likely to face harsh sanctions following an investigation,” Nagpaul said.
“A recently launched major BMA survey shows that BME doctors also feel they are at greater risk of harassment and bullying and feel less able to raise concerns in the workplace.”
Health minister, Stephen Barclay, said: “The NHS is a hotbed of talent for people from all communities, with diversity levels far in excess of the national average. We are determined to improve diversity and equality for everyone in the NHS which is why, for the first time, we have published data on pay and ethnicity.
“We will shortly outline plans to tackle inequalities at senior levels and break down barriers to progression, allowing the facilitation and celebration of diversity at all levels of the NHS.”
[link url="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/sep/27/black-medics-in-nhs-paid-thousands-less-than-white-medics"]The Guardian report[/link]
[link url="https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k1541"]BMJ article[/link]