The Medical Women's Federation was founded in 1917 and is today the largest and most influential body of women doctors in the UK.
Our aims are to advance the personal and professional development of women in medicine, to change discriminatory attitudes and practices and to work on behalf of women patients and their families. Great advances are being made in medicine, and as the number of women doctors rise, women have an increasingly important role to play in delivering NHS services to patients. This manifesto calls for fundamental changes to be made to the way in which women doctors are trained and employed in order to make the most of what they have to offer throughout their working lives, and to ensure they make as full a contribution to patient care as they are able to. This is of particular importance at the current time, when it is recognised that there is a real shortage of doctors in the UK, especially in the training grades.
There are still many areas where women's health needs are not well met; the persistence of domestic violence and genital mutilation are but two examples where the MWF continues to campaign at a national and international level for change.
MWF aims to
- Promote the personal and professional development of women in medicine
- Improve the health of women and their families in society
MWF consistently works to change discriminatory attitudes and practices.
The MWF Campaigns for
Supporting access to less than full time working
The Medical Women's Federation believes that there is an unmet need for family friendly working practices which take into account that many women doctors will become mothers and raise families at some stage in their career. At a later stage many will also go on to have substantial caring responsibilities during their working lives. The retention and recruitment of women doctors is essential for the development of the medical workforce - this requires the development of flexibility at all levels. Virtually all of those who train less than full time go on to make a long term, often full-time commitment to patients within the NHS.
Changes are essential to ensure that these talented women are retained within the NHS, achieve their personal potential, and are able to make their proper contribution to patient care.
Increasingly, particularly with dual career families, men are also seeking more flexible patterns of working. Better working practices have the potential to benefit the whole workforce, and improve the care of all patients. What changes are needed to accommodate this reality? We call for more flexibility- in training,in working, and in retirement.
Less than full time training
- Slotshares wherever possible
- Creative rota organisation to accommodate less-than-full-time (LTFT) trainees
- Proper funding for LTFT trainees if no slot share can be found
- Adequate locum cover if women go on maternity leave
- Make it every doctor’s right to have LTFT training if he/she has a child under the age of 3 years
- A reduction in the complexity of LTFT training to recognise the importance of acquired competencies rather than just time served in a post
- Clarification of pensions for LTFT trainees
- Improved opportunities for career progression
Less than full time working
- Changes in traditional hours for clinics.
- A flexible approach to revalidation to ensure that those with skills are able to teach and supervise, even if they no longer undertake acute clinical work.
- A flexible approach to working conditions of senior hospital doctors, with greater opportunities for less than full-time work and job sharing.
- Proper retainer/returner schemes in hospital medicine and general practice.
- Facilitate return to work after a career break – refresher sessions and fewer hurdles.
- Flexible retirement policies to enable senior staff to reduce some aspects of their work without jeopardising their pension.
- Flexible hours to accommodate those with substantial caring responsibilities, often those with elderly parent.
Supporting the working carer
To support women doctors to achieve their potential and work for patients we need:
- Uniform maternity pay for all doctors, whether in general practice, in hospital or as a returner
- Protection of reasonable maternity locum payments in general practice
- Child care being made a tax-deductible expense
- Hospital nurseries and creches which recognise the hours that doctors work
Supporting all working doctors
To allow all doctors to make a proper contribution to patient care we need:
- Adequate infrastructure support
- Adequate office space and secretarial support for consultants in all, and especially 'Cinderella' specialties
- Introduction of more clerical support for junior doctors in hospitals
- Proper arrangements for continuing professional development for all doctors in all grades in specialties, encompassing both clinical and managerial skills
- An end to student poverty - MWF has direct experience of the hardship of many mature medical students, and actively supports a number through its bursary schemes
Supporting women patients
- The development of supportive approaches to the management of domestic violence within the NHS
- An end to female genital mutilation and sexual abuse, both in this country and abroad
- Recognition of the impact of social exclusion and poverty on women's health
- Women patients to be able to see women doctors should they so wish in any branch of medicine