The NHS Leadership Academy is compiling data on the proportion of NHS board members and clinical leaders who are women in order to expose inequalities.

NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh is supporting the research, which follows separate pieces of work by NHS Midlands and East and HSJ highlighting barriers to women securing top clinical posts.

NHS Midlands and East’s report Releasing Potential: woman doctors and clinical leadership described obstacles preventing female GPs from becoming clinical commissioning group leaders. It was published last November, a week after HSJ revealed that 85 per cent of clinical commissioning groups were led by men.

Midlands and East’s GP lead Penny Newman, who wrote the report, is now working with the leadership academy on ways of encouraging female medical leaders. She told HSJ the data being collated would be used to produce a report similar to those used to highlight inequalities in FTSE 100 companies. It would initially focus on trusts, but it was hoped a further piece of work would look at CCGs.

Ms Newman said: “There are more woman consultants than there have been in the past, but the issue is if they then become clinical directors.”

She added: “The work’s received overwhelming support, which was helped by HSJ highlighting the issue.”

The Leadership Academy is also asking those on the Top Leaders programme to identify women who have the potential to lead organisations. Those who are picked out will have access to development programmes and mentoring.

A network for women in leadership posts is also set to be established to provide role models and the opportunity to meet peers facing similar challenges. In addition, coaching could be provided, specifically aimed at supporting women medics. However, funding has yet to be confirmed for these initiatives.