Headlines: October 8th, 1999

The NHS has been the first of the public services to respond to a briefing paper prepared by the Cabinet Office suggesting that the top priority of women is to be able to balance work and family life.Chief Executive Sir Alan Langlands, speaking at the Improving Working Lives conference for NHS chairs and chief executives, said that despite a highly successful recent nurse recruitment campaign, the modernisation of employment practices and development of more flexible working arrangements within the NHS was essential to maintain the service.

The Working Lives campaign sets standards for more flexible working practices and launches a kite-mark for good employers within the NHS. Eight task forces are also being set up to spearhead change. The task forces, each of which has a budget of a hundred thousand pounds, will work with doctors, nurses, midwives, therapists, scientists, managers and other NHS colleagues to challenge traditional working practices within hospitals, surgeries and clinics.

The briefing paper prepared by the Cabinet Office carries the results of the Government’s Listening to Women initiative and is printed in the style of a women’s magazine called Voices, which will be widely distributed.

The findings of the consultation show that the top issues for women are balancing paid work and family life, support for looking after children and caring for the elderly, and the pay gap between men and women.

Copies of Voices are available from the Women’s Unit on 0171 273 8880.