The role of women in the NHS in England

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This International Women’s Day, NHS Digital has published an analysis of the role of women in the NHS in England.

Women account for more than three quarters of the NHS workforce in England, according to the NHS Digital statistics published on International Women’s Day.

In January, Emma Clayton spoke to Pf Magazine about the gender imbalance at the top of the NHS. Given three quarters of the NHS workforce are female, women are still under-represented in leadership roles. 

Of the 1,216,719 staff members working in the NHS in September 2018, 935,772 were women (77% of the workforce). The proportion of doctors working in NHS hospitals who are women has grown each year for the last five years from 44% (47,250) in September 2013 to 45% (53,692) in September 2018.

The proportion of women who are ambulance staff has also increased over the last five years – with women making up 37% (6,744) of the ambulance workforce in September 2013 and 40% (8,825) in September 2018.

The number of women working in nursing and health visitor roles increased from 274,377 in September 2013 to 284,153 in September 2018. Both figures represented 89% of the total nursing and health visitor workforce.

The number of women working in roles supporting clinical staff rose from 276,996 in September 2013 (84% of the support staff workforce) to 308,686 in September 2018 (83% of the support staff workforce).

Meanwhile, the number of women midwives increased from 24,910 in September 2013 to 25,777 in September 2018, whereas the number of male midwives fell from 96 in September 2013 to 89 in September 2018.

Analysis of staff members with a known nationality showed that in September 2013, 9% of women working in the NHS were from overseas (71,484) – with 10,199 of these employees working as hospital doctors and 30,974 working as nurses and health visitors.

In September 2018, 11% of women working in the NHS were from overseas (99,525) – with 13,048 of these employees working as hospital doctors and 39,578 working as nurses and health visitors.

In September 2013, 13% of female nurses and health visitors were women from overseas. This figure rose to 15% in September 2018. In September 2013, 23% of female hospital doctors were women from overseas. This figure rose to 25% in September 2018. The full analysis is available on the NHS Digital website.