March 19, 2022 8.00 am

Public sector responds to alarming gender pay gaps across Lincolnshire

One NHS trust has a pay gap of almost quadruple the national average

All four health trusts and both police forces covering Greater Lincolnshire show significant gender pay gaps, doubling and even trebling the national average in some instances.

Issues surrounding fairness of pay for women have been widely reported in previous years, particularly in a time when organisations are trying to show inclusivity and equality throughout their workforce.

From 2017, the government introduced a rule that meant employers with a headcount of 250 or more must comply with regulations on gender pay gap reporting and make the data publicly available.

According to the Office For National Statistics, the gender pay gap in the UK for 2021 stands at 7.9% for full time workers, when looking at median gross hourly earnings.

Lincolnshire Police in particular came under criticism on International Women’s Day (Tuesday, March 8) when it lit up its headquarters in the purple colours that highlighted the cause for female recognition.

A tweet posted to show police HQ illuminated in purple was quoted by an account called Gender Pay Gap Bot, which exposed the force for paying women less than men, despite the showing of solidarity on IWD.

Using the government’s gender pay gap data comparison page, The Lincolnite looked at the reported salary gaps between men and women based on median hourly pay.

We analysed all four health trusts, both Lincolnshire and Humberside Police forces, as well as the district, borough, city and county councils in Greater Lincolnshire. The results were alarming, with just two district councils having a pay gap higher in the favour of women. This is what was found.

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Trust (NLaG) – 27.6% lower for women

Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby (left), and Scunthorpe General Hospital (right). | Photo: NLaG

The NHS trust covering hospitals in Goole, Grimsby and Scunthorpe recorded the largest gender pay gap of all health trusts in the Greater Lincolnshire region, over three times the national average, in fact.

According to 2020/21 data, NLaG’s median hourly pay is a staggering 27.6% lower for women, which equates to 72p for every £1 that men earn in the trust. The 2021/22 data must be published on the government website by the end of March.

Christine Brereton, director of people at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLaG), said: “The mean hourly pay rate within the gender pay gap has decreased in the 2021 figure that will be published later this month. There is a large number of roles across the NHS and we have male and females at different stages on the pay scales, this in part contributes to the gender pay gap and mean hourly rate.

“We are committed to reducing the pay gap further and will consider ways in which we can address this as part of overall Equality and Diversity plans to look at how we can improve this.

“We are seeking to embrace the priority within the NHS People Plan to offer greater flexibility in the way we employ people, thereby addressing one of the barriers which may prevent the progression of female staff.”

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) – 14.6% lower for women

Boston Pilgrim Hospital and Lincoln County Hospital.

ULHT runs Lincoln County Hospital, Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, Grantham and District Hospital, as well as County Hospital Louth, and was found to have a gender pay gap of 14.6%.

This means that for every £1 that men earn while working at the trust, women will earn 85p. ULHT says that broader national discussions are needed across the NHS board to address this pay gap.

Deputy chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Dr Karen Dunderdale, said: “In line with other NHS organisations nationally, ULHT employs significantly more women than men, with women representing approximately 80% of our workforce. We recognise that within the NHS structure, women are more likely to be in lower paid roles and are more likely to work part time.

“In our most recent gender pay gap report from March 2021, we reported a female median hourly rate which is 14.58% lower when compared with male employees. This represents a 2.17% reduction from 2020 and the trust is committed to continuing this progress to address gender inequality.

“Locally, through the Lincolnshire Talent Academy, we are working with young people at the earliest opportunity to address and remove stereotypes which might exist in relation to NHS careers. Within the trust, a broader talent management strategy, encouraging the progression of under-represented groups and offering greater flexibility in contracts, is also contributing positively to addressing the gender pay gap.

“We also continue to work closely with our established and successful women’s network, of which I am very proud to be executive sponsor, to seek further support and encourage their ideas.

“Representatives from ULHT also participate in broader national discussions, influencing the development of wider NHS working practices which can also impact this important issue.”

Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS) – 16.4% lower for women

Johnson Community Hospital, Spalding. | Photo: LCHS

Lincolnshire’s primary community healthcare provider also recorded a large pay gap relating to gender, despite the fact that the CEO and deputy chief executive are both female.

LCHS has a median hourly pay that is 16.4% lower for women, working out at 84p per £1 for male earnings, and the trust says a recent recruitment drive may well have caused this gap.

Ceri Lennon, director of people and innovation at Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS), said: “LCHS is committed to narrowing gender pay gap and we are an equal opportunities employer. We have a female CEO and deputy CEO. Within the higher pay bands (such as 8a and 8c) we have more females than males and on average females are paid more in these roles.

“Our reported gender pay gap has slightly widened since the last year and there are several reasons for this. Our organisation was hosting a senior male staff member who was on secondment to another NHS trust.

“We have also recruited more GPs and other medics for our urgent treatment centres, many of whom are male. LCHS is also hosting several senior roles working for the wider Lincolnshire NHS system and these feature some males.

“We continue our work in line with our people strategy and the people plan by providing and promoting flexible working opportunities to help people juggle home/work life balance and childcare responsibilities. We also continue to review recruitment and promotion practices to ensure that they remain robust and fair to all.”

Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Trust (LPFT) – 19.1% lower for women

Carholme Court on the Lincoln St George’s Hospital site. | Photo: LPFT

LPFT provides care, treatment and specialist services for some 755,000 people across Lincolnshire and the East Midlands, forming as a result of a merge of health and social care services formerly provided by Lincolnshire Healthcare NHS Trust and Lincolnshire County Council.

Employing around 2,700 members of staff, LPFT’s gender pay gap has seen a median hourly pay rate that is 19.1% higher for men than for women. The trust says that this is a result of men holding more senior positions in the organisation.

Jane Marshall, director of strategy, people and partnerships at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Trust (LPFT), comments: “LPFT prides itself on having an inclusive and diverse workforce attracting the best talent from across the country.

“The issue of a gender pay gap is one which is seen across the UK, and it comes down to men holding more of the senior positions than women.

“In our trust, our board of directors receives a full report each year on the gender pay gap and that report shows that there is a difference between hourly pay rates for men and women.

“We recognise this is an issue, so that’s why we’re doing all we can to boost inclusion and equality. In fact, at LPFT, our CEO and 50% of our board are female – and we are looking at ways to increase our representation of women at senior level.

“Our women’s and allies staff network are working on the gender pay gap report and action plans with sponsorship from our board. We’re proud to support things like the International Women’s Day #breakthebias campaign to start a conversation around inclusion, and no matter what gender or how you identify, we will encourage you to upskill, develop and keep progressing.”

Lincolnshire Police – 15.2% lower for women

Lincolnshire Police HQ. | Photo: Steve Smailes

The aforementioned Lincolnshire Police has already had its gender pay gap exposed on social media, and it works out at being an earning of 85p for women for every £1 earned by men.

A senior officer for the force told The Lincolnite they are actively seeking to provide opportunities for female members of staff, including coaching and mentoring for development within the force.

Detective Chief Superintendent Andrew Cox said: “We are committed to equality, to supporting and recognising the incredible work undertaken by women each and every day within Lincolnshire Police.

“We want to give every female member of staff the best opportunity to develop their careers without any restriction in whatever way they wish to do so. To achieve this, one example includes established available enhanced coaching and mentoring opportunities for female officers and staff, seeking lateral development or promotion.”

Humberside Police – 14.4% lower for women

Clough Road police station in Hull. | Photo: Humberside Police

As for the Humberside force, which covers North and North East Lincolnshire, their figures were slightly better than in Lincolnshire, but only by less than 1%.

A median hourly pay gap of 14.4% in 2020/21 highlights an issue, but in actual fact, Humberside Police say their figures are among the best for all forces in the country.

A spokesperson for Humberside Police said: “Since the previous figures were released in 2018/2019, the pay gap closed by an encouraging 8.1%, but we know there is still work to do in this area.

“While we were ranked eighth highest out of 43 police forces in England and Wales, we have been working hard to make Humberside Police a more equal and representative place for all.”

Greater Lincolnshire Councils

Lincolnshire County Council offices in Lincoln. | Photo: Daniel Jaines

At council level, the figures are much more balanced, and even in some cases sway towards women having a greater average pay than men.

This is the case at both East and West Lindsey District Councils, where the gender pay gap is 10.6% and 16.1% higher respectively in the favour of women.

On the other end of the spectrum is Boston Borough Council, reporting a 7% gap that relates to 93p earnings for women for every £1 that men earn.

North and South Kesteven District Council, along with North Lincolnshire Council, have equal median hourly pay for men and women, though North Lincolnshire and North Kesteven’s reports are from 2020/21.

Lincolnshire County Council’s pay gap stands at 3.3% lower for women, while City of Lincoln Council’s is 1.5% lower and North East Lincolnshire Council’s is 2% higher for female employees.

The only of the district councils that was not required to provide the data is South Holland District Council, due to having a headcount below 250.

A West Lindsey District Council spokesperson said: “We are always looking for ways that we as an organisation can make ourselves more inclusive.  Our flexible work structures try to offer our staff greater work-balance, allowing our 279 staff members the flexibility to make their careers work for them.

“Though the statistics mentioned capture a specific snapshot in time, we continue to monitor and look for ways to improve to be the fairest, most diverse organisation that we can be.”