PROGRESSION for women at Oxfordshire's major hospitals is a concern for health chiefs after a new report revealed an increase in the gender pay gap.

The figures from Oxford University Hospitals show the median pay gap - that is the difference in pay between the middle-ranking man and the middle-ranking woman - is 15.2 per cent in favour of men.

The figure is an increase of 4.3 per cent on the year before.

The trust, which runs the John Radcliffe Hospital and the Churchill Hospital in Oxford and also the Horton General in Banbury, said the widening of the gap was due to the proportion of women earning higher salaries within the trust having decreased in the last 12 months.

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In the report managers admitted that progression for women within the trust 'remains a concern'.

This is the second year the trust has published the information after new government rules were introduced last year requiring any organisation with 250 or more employees to publish specific figures on their gender pay gap.

A Gender Pay Gap is different to unequal pay which is where women are paid less than men for the same work which is illegal.

The report found the median hourly-rate for men at the trust was £17.38 compared to compared to £14.74 for women.

Following the report last year, the trust has introduced a number of initiatives to lessen the gender pay disparity such as creating an OUH Women’s Network and putting an end to the use of ceased the use of 'spot salaries' (those not aligned to Agenda for Change).

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However, chairman of OUH Dame Fiona Caldicott said it had been too early to see the results of the changes.

She said: "I very much welcome the introduction of gender pay gap reporting because transparency drives change.

"This situation is not unique to OUH but I and my colleagues on the trust board are determined to take the action required to achieve change in this.

"We have taken actions since the trust's first Gender Pay Gap Report was published in March 2018 including setting up our Women's Network, providing support to female consultants applying for Clinical Excellence Awards, and developing a scoring matrix for competency-based job interviews which determine how an applicant meets the person specification for a job role.

"The impact of these actions is not yet reflected in our Gender Pay Gap Report because this year's report uses salary figures as of 31 March 2018 - before the action plan was implemented - but we hope to see the impact in next year's report."

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At a trust board meeting last week, members were asked to approve an action plan based on the findings of this year's Gender Pay Gap Report in order to drive further improvements.

Actions include introducing a new salary scale for senior managers and conducting a trust-wide consultation into the Gender Pay Gap.