UK doctors and equal opportunities in the NHS: national questionnaire surveys of views on gender, ethnicity and disability

J R Soc Med. 2014 Oct;107(10):398-408. doi: 10.1177/0141076814541848.


Objectives: To seek doctors' views about the NHS as an employer, our surveys about doctors' career intentions and progression, undertaken between 1999 and 2013, also asked whether the NHS was, in their view, a good 'equal opportunities' employer for women doctors, doctors from ethnic minority groups and doctors with disabilities.

Design and setting: Surveys undertaken in the UK by mail and Internet.

Participants: UK medical graduates in selected graduation years between 1993 and 2012.

Main outcome measures: Respondents were asked to rate their level of agreement with three statements starting 'The NHS is a good equal opportunities employer for…' and ending 'women doctors', 'doctors from ethnic minorities' and 'doctors with disabilities'.

Results: Of first-year doctors surveyed in 2013, 3.6% (78/2158) disagreed that the NHS is a good equal opportunities employer for women doctors (1.7% of the men and 4.7% of the women); 2.2% (44/1968) disagreed for doctors from ethnic minorities (0.9% of white doctors and 5.8% of non-white doctors) and 12.6% (175/1387) disagreed for doctors with disabilities. Favourable perceptions of the NHS in these respects improved substantially between 1999 and 2013; among first-year doctors of 2000-2003, combined, the corresponding percentages of disagreement were 23.5% for women doctors, 23.1% for doctors from ethnic minorities and 50.6% for doctors with disabilities.

Conclusions: Positive views about the NHS as an equal opportunities employer have increased in recent years, but the remaining gap in perception of this between women and men, and between ethnic minority and white doctors, is a concern.

Keywords: Equal opportunities; doctors; medical careers; survey.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Career Choice
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Employment*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Male
  • Personnel Selection / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physicians, Women / statistics & numerical data*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Professional Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Social Justice
  • State Medicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Workforce