It’s no secret that NHS staff have felt increasingly under pressure in recent years; whether if be through underfunding, understaffing or long-working hours, those at the sharp end of our public health service are bearing the burden of the financial pressures exerted on an already overstretched organisation. But the spotlight has recently been turned towards flexible working. More specifically, highlighting the punishing shift uncertainty and salary disparities that exists between male and female co-workers.
Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, writing for the Guardian last week, cited “the uncomfortable truth that women are paid less, promoted less and systematically under-represented among the top jobs” in the NHS and drew attention to the fact that women, who make up 80% of the NHS workforce, are paid on average 23% less than their male co-workers.
Hancock is seeking to promote a modern working culture where doctors are not expected to cancel important family-events like weddings or funerals because of last-minute shift changes, where an individual’s personal health is taken into consideration and is attributed with more importance than shift-fulfilment and where personal trauma is taken into account when considering shift allocation.
Hancock’s vision includes fixed shift rotas of at least six weeks and more part-time, job-sharing or home-working roles. The emphasis, he believes, should be more on flexible working, a better work-life balance combined with a more equal pay structure and equal access to the top jobs for women.