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Key NHS roles still go to men

30 Mar 2017

Progress made but RCN warns of huge task ahead.

The RCN has welcomed evidence of growing gender equality on NHS trust boards but says there much more to do to achieve a better balance.

A report by NHS Employers shows 85% of chief nurses on trust boards in England are women but only a third of non-executive directors are female. 

And although 42% of trust chief executives are women there are “disappointingly low” numbers of female medical directors on trust boards, the report says. 

Across more than 450 NHS organisations, including trusts, arm’s-length bodies and clinical commissioning groups, the percentage of women on boards varies hugely, from 8% to 80%, with an average of 41%.

Wendy Irwin, RCN Diversity and Equalities Co-ordinator, said: “We still have a huge task ahead of us to achieve gender equality in the NHS.

“It’s encouraging to see more and more female chief executives across NHS trusts and arm’s-length bodies. Women make up the majority of the NHS workforce and while female directors of nursing reflect their workforce, other areas must catch-up.”

But she added: “While this report makes strides in highlighting the differences of women on NHS boards, more research is needed to understand their diversity beyond gender and where discrimination is experienced by staff. 

“It is vital employers make workplaces inclusive so we can make the most of the talent available."