Earlier this month, a final offer for the Junior Doctors Contract was given to NHS doctors after an equality impact assessment was carried out by the government.
Under the new contract, the pattern of pay distribution depends on working patterns. There has been growing tension and anger over “the dismissive attitude toward female doctors that made me question not just how little the government value doctors, but if it values women doctors at all”, Dr Rao wrote in response.
The impact assessment stated ‘Whilst this (contract) may disadvantage lone parents due to the increased cost of paid childcare, in some cases this may actually benefit other women.
For example where individuals have partners, it may be easier to make informal, unpaid childcare arrangements in the evenings and weekends than it is during the week, due to the increased availability of partners and wider family networks at weekends and in the evenings’.
Some doctors believe that the government has regressed with its treatment of women. The Representation of the People Act that gave the vote to some women over the age of 30 was passed under a Liberal Prime Minister and the Equal Franchise Act that finally gave the vote to all women over the age of 21, was passed under a Conservative government.
The current junior doctor contract is thus being seen as both regressive and unfair towards women.
In 2009, the British Medical Association published The Pay Gap for Women in Medicine and Academic Medicine, finding that only 60% of the gender pay gap could be explained because women in a similar job to men were younger, had fewer years of experience, were more likely to have had career breaks and were less likely to hold high profile administrative or research posts.
Even after comparing with another doctor having a similar background and in a similar job, significant gender differences were found at all levels of training.
“Many women are literally backed into a corner and compelled to change to part-time employment. Even then, it remains a slippery slope of inequality”, Dr Rao summed up, before sending a message to Mr Hunt:
“There is one message that Jeremy Hunt needs to hear loud and clear. After the next election on Thursday 7 May 2020, don’t say we didn’t tell you so”.