Call for an increase in flexible training opportunities for doctors

The
NHS must allow more junior doctors to train part-time if it is to meet the
demands of the NHS Plan and the European Working Time Directive.

That’s
the message from a multi-party working group led by the British Medical
Association (BMA). The working group reports that there is a need for more
flexibility and work-life balance for all doctors, both full- and part-time,
and calls for an end to the distinction between full-time and flexible
training.

Research
shows that half the UK’s 39,000 junior doctors would like to work part-time in
future. Despite this, the opportunity to train flexibly remains severely
limited.

The
NHS currently employs around 1,700 flexible trainee doctors who work less than
full-time but more than half-time. The majority are women with young children
who would find it difficult to stay in the NHS if they did not have the
opportunity to work flexibly.

Dr
Kym Hildyard, who co-chaired the working party, said flexible training is
essential not only to the welfare of staff, but also to the future of the NHS.
She said trusts should take a more long-term view.

"The
cost of allowing doctors to train part-time is tiny compared to the costs of
them leaving the NHS," she said.

The
report recommendations:


Flexible training to be available for all who want it


All flexible trainees, including those with ill health or disabilities, to have
the same rights and opportunities as full-time trainees


Better childcare provision


The publication of detailed guidance on access to the flexible training scheme


More guidance on the rights of flexible trainees


Easy access to help and advice


More sophisticated assessments of trusts’ training capacity

By Michael Millar

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