BMA survey results shines a light on sexism in NHS Wales
The BMA has published the results of a UK-wide survey of doctors which exposes a concerning level of sexism in medicine.
91% of female doctors confirm they have experienced sexism at work with 42% feeling they could not report it.
The picture in Wales is in line with the UK-wide results with 86% of Welsh doctors agreeing there is an issue of sexism in the NHS and 70% saying this acts as a barrier to career progression.
A Welsh GP is blaming workplace sexism on lack of training and awareness of discrimination, and a culture fear of repercussions for addressing issues.
Bethan Roberts, a GP based in Bridgend, said: “I think sexist attitudes and behaviours are most likely a combination of NHS structures tolerating sexist behaviour by individuals, junior doctors rotating out of hostile work environments – resulting in a reliance on staff moving out of departments rather than fixing the problem – and a reluctance by junior doctors to raise concerns for fear of this impacting negatively on career progression.
She said: “People will have had very different experiences and so it’s important for the survey results to be publicised – just because something is invisible to some doesn’t mean it isn’t happening at all.”
Doctors in Wales shared their varying experiences of sexism showing many similarities.
These included receiving patronising comments, being judged on their appearance, being overlooked in their career progression, or being ignored by patients and other doctors in favour of their male colleagues.
One doctor said: “Preferring opinions of male members of the department over mine. One guy said, ‘relax dear’ when I confronted him about discharging a sick patient without my knowledge.”
Another commented: “On numerous occasions I’ve heard ‘X’ speciality isn’t good for women, especially if you want a family etc. I very frequently get mistaken by patients for nursing staff, often despite introducing myself as a doctor.”
Manish Adke, member of BMA Cymru Wales consultants committee and co-chair of the BAME forum in Wales agrees, he said: “I had my concerns for many years about discrimination on gender and sex. Sadly, this survey has just confirmed my observations which I feared for years.
“We, as the BMA, must engage with employers to eliminate the sexism and gender inequality within NHS by improving education, training, support and raising awareness.
“It is also important to have a defined mechanism through which staff can raise concerns regarding discrimination and appropriate actions are taken against those who are continue to discriminate colleagues.
“Female gender pay inequality is a direct manifestation of discrimination in career progression, lack of opportunities given to female staff and male dominant culture in NHS.”
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Most of it relates to conservatism in medicine which does vary from specialty to specialty. Surgery still has the reputation of being stale pale and male. There are also local effects on patient perception. Many years ago in the 1990s I was asked by a female teenage patient from Port Talbot if I really was a doctor because all the doctors she had met were Asians. Likewise later in Burnley as an A&E consultant when we all took up wearing scrubs several patients assumed I was a male nurse for the same reason. Mostly females are assumed to be nurses… Read more »
Not just between staff either. The sexism by males towards female patients is considerable. Me I much prefer a woman doctor because generally they have to be very good to get there.
Its a shame that the NHS in Wales is still so sexist, When I worked at Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli. as a female Orthopaedic Consultant from 1994 until 2004 I was constantly being put down and ignored by senior male colleagues and management ,. When I was concerned about a senior male Orthopaedic colleague who clearly had problems with his vision and excessive complications from his surgeries, I was ignored by the chief doctor, the medical director, and the man was still allowed to operate on patients freely. Eventually a middle grade doctor, who he relied onto check his work,… Read more »