Peers told women doctors need career break support
6 November 2012
Support for women doctors returning to work following a career break is vital, the BMA has stressed to peers.
The association highlights the importance of funding for doctors’ retainer schemes before a question in the Lords today.
Crossbench peer Baroness Deech of Cumnor is to ask how the government will facilitate the retention of women doctors in the NHS.
In a briefing before the debate, the BMA expresses concerns about the future of the retainer scheme that allows doctors, particularly GPs, to reduce their working hours while maintaining their clinical skills.
The association questions how the schemes will continue when PCTs are abolished and funding moves to the NHS Commissioning Board next year.
‘Concerns remain about how the scheme will operate and how any funding for the retainer scheme will be provided locally,’ the BMA tells peers.
The number of schemes varies between deaneries, with some providing 48 GP retainers and others none, a BMA survey found.
‘The BMA supports retainer schemes and is disappointed at the lack of national funding to maintain [them]. The scheme provides valuable opportunities for female doctors taking a career break for various reasons, including having children, to maintain their clinical skills during this period,’ the association says in its briefing.
The BMA also highlights how academic medicine is failing to retain women doctors. It notes that data from the Medical Schools Council found the number of female clinical academics in UK medical schools had risen by 33 per cent between 2011 and 2004.
The number of female academic trainees equals the number of men until PhD level when there is a sharp drop which, the BMA suggests, could be due to the time at which doctors tend to start PhDs coinciding with the time many women have children.
The BMA medical academic staff committee has called for more data on doctors at this point in their careers to be collected to help tackle this problem.
The committee is also working with the Medical Women's Federation on a major report on clinical academics’ career breaks, which is due out later this year.