The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

But woman’s work is never done

Last year’s gender pay gap results weren’t easy reading for the NHS, with some organisations posting gaps as wide as 40 per cent. As The Guardian noted, more than 100 trusts reported wider gaps than they did in the previous year. 

Clinical commissioning groups have arguably faced less public scrutiny than providers, in part because they’re much smaller organisations with only a handful meeting the 250-employee threshold for mandatory reporting. But those that do report show an equally disparate picture.

Coventry and Rugby CCG, which published its 2019 gender pay gap results early, has a wider gap than any other NHS organisation posted last year. As of 31 March 2019, the group was paying women on average £18.27 less per hour than men — something it blamed on employing significantly more women in lower-band positions.

At a senior management level, the CCG has an almost even split between men and women. But between bands one to seven, virtually all roles were filled by women.

The reasons behind this gap, and whether it’s a problem, have been fiercely debated in the HSJ comments. Some readers argue gender pay gaps — which do not indicate men and women are being paid differently for equal work — are essentially a non-issue. Others argue they are an important marker for the enduring structural reasons women tend to perform lower-paid roles — and the value we place on those positions.

Taking it to the Treasury

It’s uncommon for an NHS trust chief executive to get to argue for more money directly with the chancellor.

And Daily Insight assumes anyone asking for cash to build and run a £15m health facility in an area populated by 2,000 people wouldn’t be given the time of day at the Treasury under normal circumstances.

But then Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust’s request isn’t your standard ask for cash. 

The trust wants a special funding solution from the government to build and run a new health facility on the Isles of Scilly. The islands lie 28 miles off the Cornish peninsula, and the increasingly elderly population’s health needs cannot be served fully by existing care services.

This means some islanders are forced to see out their days alone on the mainland.

According to CPFT chief executive Phil Confue, Sajid Javid was “supportive in principle” when the pair met last year. However, the meeting took place just before the general election, and the trust is now seeking to re-establish talks over the proposal.

What happens next should be of interest to NHS chiefs running care services in other remote corners of England. But with little certainly likely until a spending review later in the year — if then — it could be some time before the Treasury gives its verdict.