An edited version of the below statement appeared as a Letter to Editor in the Guardian today.
“The Health Secretary is imposing a contract which, according to the Department of Health’s own Equality Analysis, contains features ‘that impact disproportionately on women’. This is particularly alarming for our speciality of obstetrics and gynaecology, where 82% of trainee doctors are female.
“The new contract will require junior doctors to work more weekends and will cut Saturday pay in exchange for a basic pay rise of 13.5%. It will also mean doctors no longer get automatic pay increases for time served, hitting the salaries of those who take time off, including those on maternity leave. Female doctors bear the brunt of childcare and caring responsibilities and they make up the majority of those working part-time; the loss of incremental pay progression will hit less than full-time trainees the hardest. Those doctors who take maternity leave and then continue to train, working less than full time, will face a significant financial penalty.
“In addition, increased rostering of staff in the evenings and weekends will disadvantage doctors who are lone parents, the majority of whom are women, since childcare costs are higher at these times and also more difficult to access.
“The Department of Health claims that ‘any indirect adverse effect on women is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’. According to the Equality Act 2010, any justification for discrimination must be fairly balanced against the disadvantage suffered because of that discrimination. This means it must be both appropriate and necessary, something which, we would argue, has not been proven by the Department of Health and needs further examination.”
Dr David Richmond
President, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Dr Matthew Prior
Chair of the RCOG Trainees Committee
Read our previous statements on the junior doctors’ contract dispute: