Headlines: May 30th, 2001

The British Medical Association’s Junior Doctors’ Committee is asking all the main political parties to commit themselves to effective family friendly policies for junior doctors.It has written to the health spokesmen of the three main parties as well as the Minister for Women outlining the difficulties faced by such workers.

It compares the efforts placed on the need to encourage nurse recruitment by providing flexible working opportunities with a lack of similar initiatives for doctors in training.

The majority of newly qualified doctors are now women and in some medical schools theproportion of women students is as high as 70 per cent.

The BMA says that doctors spend up to fifteen years training full time to become consultants and the many years of long hours and arduous training often coincide with the time they are starting their families.

More than a third of junior doctors responding to a BMA tracking study said they would like to pursue the option of flexible training (which still involve around a 40 hour week). However currentlyonly three per cent are doing so. The position for flexible trainees is worsening with some Trusts refusing to employ part-time junior doctors.

The BMA says the reason for refusing part-time employment is a change in the funding arrangements for junior doctors’ pay. The new pay deal for junior doctors has not been met with increased funding for flexible trainees, leaving trusts to foot the bill, often paying two or three times as much in flexible trainee salaries as they did under the old system.

The doctors’ organisation says it is an unintended consequence of the new junior doctors’ contract which needs to be resolved to prevent a haemorrhage of young women doctors from the service.

Link: www.bma.org.uk