The hidden cost of cuts undermines equality for women

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Conference
2012 Health Care Service Group Conference
Date
16 December 2011
Decision

Conference notes with concern the devastating impact of the cuts in the NHS, and the hidden impact on the earning ability and pensions of women NHS workers.

As many as one in three women currently work in the public sector in the UK, and as the majority of both service users and providers, women will bear the brunt of the cuts.

The gender pay gap in the private sector is twice that in the public sector. As women are forced out of the NHS and into private companies, through privatisation driven by government ideology, that gap will inevitably widen.

Further cuts in family orientated services, such as drug and alcohol treatment programmes, mental health services, eating disorders clinics and elderly care, will mean that women workers will be forced to fill the care gap.

For many workers this will inevitably mean being forced by family circumstances to work part time, and whilst the full time pay gap closes slowly, the part time pay gap for women remains twice that of their full time colleagues.

This will impact further on women’s lifetime earning ability, and therefore on their pension, leaving women who have dedicated their lives to working in the NHS facing an impoverished retirement.

Conference therefore calls upon the Service Group Executive to:

1)Ensure that branches and regions understand the process of equality impact assessments and are able to use them effectively in challenging the impact on women workers of cutting or outsourcing services;

2)Continue to monitor the impact of the cuts on women workers, and raise these concerns with the Department of Health;

3)Highlight the impact on women working in the NHS in campaign materials in defence of the NHS and the NHS pension scheme.