Black doctors in the NHS are paid on average almost £10,000 a year less and black nurses £2,700 less than their white counterparts, the biggest study of earnings by ethnicity has found.
The revelations, based on analysis of 750,000 staff salaries in the NHS in England, prompted claims of racial discrimination.
Black female doctors earn £9,612 a year less and black male doctors £9,492 a year less than white ones, the research exercise by NHS Digital, the service’s statistical arm, found.
Black female nurses and midwives earn £2,700 a year less and black male nurses and midwives £1,872 a year less.
Black personnel – those who defined themselves as black/African/Caribbean/black British – are also paid much less than white colleagues across the entire range of roles performed in the health service, NHS Digital found.
Black men working in the NHS across all job types earn £5,796 less than white peers and £7,272 less than the average male pay. The equivalent gaps for black women are much smaller but still visible, at £1,980 and £2,172 respectively.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the chair of the British Medical Association, the doctors’ union, said: “BME doctors make up more than a third of the medical workforce and play a vital role, day in day out, delivering care to patients across the country. Yet these figures confirm that they, alongside wider NHS staff, continue to face unacceptable barriers, penalties and discrimination in the health service.
“It cannot be right that in 21st-century Britain there are such wide gaps in pay between white and BME doctors when, irrespective of their background, they hold positions to deliver the same care to patients.”
The 750,000 staff whom NHS Digital examined ranged from porters to neurosurgeons. It broke down the findings only for doctors, nurses/midwives and managers, and not for each of the 300 or so job roles in the NHS.
The Royal College of Nursing said the pay gaps were “enormous” and underlined the “appalling” under-representation of people from minority ethnic backgrounds in senior NHS roles.
Donna Kinnair, the RCN’s acting chief executive, said: “As a black woman who spent a career in NHS nursing, nobody feels stronger about this than me. For the first time these figures show the shocking scale of the challenge we face to ensure BAME staff are represented at every level of our healthcare system.
“The enormous pay gaps highlighted here reflect the appalling lack of diversity at senior levels in the NHS. BAME staff make up 25% of NHS workforce, yet this dwindles to just 7% of senior managers. This lack of diversity means the NHS leadership fails to reflect the population it serves.”
It is the second recent study to identify a substantial pay gap between white and minority ethnic doctors. According to the findings of Prof John Appleby, of the Nuffield Trust thinktank, published in the British Medical Journal this month, white consultants (senior hospital doctors) are paid on average £4,664 a year more than those from any sort of BME background, not just of black origin.