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More women doctors mean greater demand for flexible working

23 June 2007

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The British Medical Association (BMA) has called for more flexible working hours in the NHS, as new figures show that female doctors embarking on NHS careers outnumber men by almost three to two.

A cohort of 435 doctors who graduated from UK medical schools in 2006 will be surveyed by the BMA for the next 10 years. Almost three in five (58%) are female, compared with 51% in 1995, when the BMA launched a similar study of medical graduates. This is in line with UCAS figures, which show that 58% of doctors who graduated in 2006 were female.

The BMA survey shows that one in five (21%) of female doctors anticipates working part-time for the majority of their careers, compared to one in 25 men. Almost half (48%) of women doctors say they want to train less than fulltime at some point, compared to 15% of men.

Two-thirds of all the doctors surveyed (80% of women and 50% of men) expect to take a career break at some point.

The BMA is calling for increased funding for flexible training schemes, which allow junior doctors to work less than full time, and will debate the issue at its annual conference next week.

Dr Jo Hilborne, chairman of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, says: “The medical workforce is changing rapidly and the NHS needs to wake up to the needs of its staff. It’s not just the fact that more and more women are entering medicine – all staff should have the right to work-life balance.”

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