The NHS faces financial risks and worries over organisational success due to the lack of female leaders on Clinical Commissioning Groups, a new report has warned.
Releasing Potential: Women doctors and clinical leadership found women had experienced difficulties joining CCG leadership committees despite evidence showing gender diverse boards improve financial performance.
GP Penny Newman, report author, says the lack of diversity presents “a risk to developing the collaborative and inclusive leadership behaviour needed for organisations to succeed in a complex system”.
The report, funded by the National Leadership Council, was based on in-depth interviews with 26 leading female GPs and consultants with the outcomes tested on a further National Leadership Council workshop which included 43 female medical leaders and other experts.
Several interviewees said they had signalled an intention to take a senior role within CCGs but had experienced issues in joining. Previously, claims had been made of a ‘jobs for boys’ culture from female GPs following a similar study by Pulse. One interviewee even described one leadership committee as consisting of “clubs, gangs and mafia”, insisting there was “exclusion, inequity and disengagement of the rest of the profession”.
Research from the report said that female GPs were more likely to work with marginalised and vulnerable communities and were found to have qualities such as empathy, being able to question and admit vulnerability and offering support and development to others.
“While the number of female doctors continues to rise, there remains an unacceptably small proportion in leadership positions within the NHS,” said Dr Newman.
“Female doctors represent a valuable resource to the health service, both in terms of the style of working and individual talent.
“The NHS needs to enable them to achieve leadership positions through more flexible working and other initiatives to maximise the potential of the workforce and ultimately provide a better service for patients.”
The report follows an investigation by HSJ which revealed that 85% of CCGs were led by men.