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Board affiliate blog

Affiliate Board member, Sandra Silva, shares her thoughts about working in the Trust as a physiotherapist and her role on the Trust Board.

Sandra Silva

Sandra Silva

May 2021

Gender Equality and Gender Pay Gap

The current pandemic has impacted on all of us, emotionally and physically. Also, this pandemic has shone a light and exacerbated many of our society’s inequalities. The pandemic had a disproportionate toll on females, which represent the majority of the NHS workforce (77 per cent). The Health and Care Women Leaders Network has recently published a report highlighting these  findings and made recommendations on the actions required to progress the gender equality agenda – COVID19-and-the-female-health-and-care-workforce-survey-update (

I feel very strongly about all inequalities but, as a woman, I’m particularly passionate about gender equality, because I witness in my personal and professional life the disproportionate burden of caring responsibilities on women of all races and social strata. These societal and cultural expectations on women can have a significative negative impact on our ability to progress professionally.

At the last Public Board Meeting, held on the 31 March 2021, the Trust Gender Pay Gap Report was discussed. I was positively impressed this report was highlighted and warranted Board consideration and discussion. The gender pay gap is a measure of labour market or workplace disadvantage, expressed in terms of a comparison between men’s and women’s average hourly rates of pay. The report notes a Gender Pay Gap in favour of males within the Trust (for 19/20 the mean hourly fixed pay gap between men and women is 17.4%). This picture is driven by the greater number of men in higher paid jobs when compared to the workforce population which is 80% female in the Trust. The two staff groups with the largest pay gaps are Administrative & Clerical and Medical & Dental.

At the Board Meeting some of the debate covered the barriers that prevent women from applying for the higher paid jobs and what can be done about it; the opportunities  for women Consultants applying for the Clinical Excellence Awards; and the involvement of female focus groups to support the pay gap route cause analysis. If you are interested in this topic you can listen to the Board discussion here: starting at 2h 01min.

Despite the report findings, I found the Trust action plan to tackle the current Gender Pay Gap encouraging. This action plan sets a vision to promote flexible working, to support career development of females with caring responsibilities and pledges debiasing actions in the recruitment and selection process, which are all important contributors to reducing the Gender Pay Gap and promoting Gender Equality. I’m particularly excited with the Trust plans to launch a Women’s Network to provide ongoing support to aspiring female professionals.

Overall, it is reassuring to know the Trust takes the Gender Pay Gap seriously and is committed to address this gap in the years ahead. On the Gender Equality front, I think we are on a journey that will be hard and may take time to achieve true equality; but it is a journey worth taking.


Twitter: @Sandra_Silva4


For those who haven’t read this blog before, Sandra Silva is part of a programme to integrate a frontline healthcare worker onto the Trust Board. Over a period of 12 months Sandra will continue in her role as a physiotherapist and will also work one day a week in a management capacity, attending board meetings and helping develop leadership projects at the Trust. Her blog explains a little about this role and highlights work taking place in the Trust.

My name is Sandra Silva, I’m a Physiotherapist working as a Clinical Lead for the Rapid Response and Intermediate Care (RRIC) Service supporting patients at their home to prevent hospital admissions and facilitate hospital discharges. In January 2021 I was appointed as the Trusts’ first non-medical Board Affiliate. The recruitment process I went through was a new one, attempting to remove bias from the selection process. The application consisted of questions that really challenged me to think differently. It set the tone for the rest of the journey as it covered areas such as inclusion; quality improvement; project management and influencing without authority. At the interview I felt my values and behaviours were put to the test and my potential had more weight than my current knowledge.

As Board Affiliate I want to bring the clinician’s voice and perspective to the Board. I also hope to develop some new leadership skills and an understanding of how the Trust is run. Additionally, it will be my responsibility to lead the next cohort of doctors-in-training as part of the Trainee Leadership Board, with the aim of analysing one of our problems and recommending improvements and solutions to the Board.

I attended my first private Board Meeting in February and here are some of my reflections:

Despite having read all the Board papers (378 pages!) in advance and having watched the most recent public Board meetings online, I was overwhelmed by the high-level discussions that happened at the meeting. However, I left the meeting feeling that all the Board Directors really have the interests of patients and staff at heart. Also, at the Board Seminar I had the privilege of learning about the amazing work Clare Daniel is doing in our Trust, as well as nationally, to raise the profile of Clinical Psychology. It was uplifting to witness the Board openness to suggestions of innovative ways of working to support both patients and staff.

Finally, I’m very excited with all the work and learning ahead of me and I hope that in a year’s time I will have made a positive contribution to influence the way the Trust is run.