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Senior manager pay shows ‘complicated’ ethnicity gap, says government

Published on: 18 Mar 2022

The government will work with NHS England on commissioning new research into ethnicity pay gaps in the health service, it has said.

In response to a Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report published last year, ministers say the research will consider the “scale and causes” of the gap and produce “actionable recommendations on how to reduce it”.

It comes after the commission told NHSE last year to undertake a strategic review into the causes of “disparate” pay in the health service and, where discrimination is found, “spell out” measures to address them.

The report said: “The NHS committed last year to publishing its ethnicity pay gap. It is essential that this information is published alongside a diagnosis of the causes of disparate pay and actions to address it.

“As highlighted by the [CRED], the picture presented by the overall NHS workforce is complicated.

“There are many factors at play from a length of service to seniority, age and geography. The disparities also vary depending on a person’s grade and ethnic group.

“For instance, at the ‘very senior manager’ grade, black men earn 96p for every £1 earned by white men, while Asian men earn £1.08.

“More analysis needs to be done to understand the nuances of the NHS workforce data and build up a picture of what is needed to reduce disparate pay.

“Sustaining morale in the NHS means demonstrating that no one is being held back from progressing because of their race or ethnicity.

“The first step in this process will be to collect and analyse data in order to build a picture of how any pay gap impacts different ethnic groups as well as newer immigrants who have been trained elsewhere, and how such factors interact with recruitment and progression.”

A government action in the report said: “To close the gap in pay between ethnic groups working within NHS [in] England, we will commission a new ethnic pay gap research project.

“The project will consider the scale and causes of the ethnicity pay gap across the NHS and produce actionable recommendations on how to reduce it.”

Other government actions in its response to the commission include:

  • The Care Quality Commission assessing how providers are addressing experiences, progression and disciplinary actions with respect to staff from ethnic minority backgrounds;
  • The publication of a new strategy in a health disparities white paper for England due later this year;
  • “Consider[ing] carefully” the findings of Dame Margaret Whitehead’s review into ethnic inequalities in medical devices; and
  • Considering and supporting “evidence-based interventions” to address disparities in outcomes through the new maternity disparities taskforce