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Improving the future for women in medicine

Improving the future for women in medicine

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 12 October 2009

EMBARGOED 18.00 Tuesday 13 October
Proposals to improve access to childcare, introduce part time training and improve career guidance have been outlined in a report published today as some of the key ways to help improve the future career prospects of women doctors.

The National Working Group on Women in Medicine’s report ‘Women Doctors: Making a Difference’, highlights current barriers that prevent female practitioners in the medical profession from reaching senior positions and leadership roles and sets out recommendations on how best to address these.

In his 2006 Annual Report, the Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer recommended that a working group should be established, to look into these issues. The Working Group’s report is a direct response to the concern that despite there being an increase in the number of females entering the profession over the last 20 years, few have reached senior leadership positions compared to their male counterparts.*

After consulting widely with a number of stakeholders, male and female doctors and reviewing all existing research on women in medicine - the national working group have put forward a number of recommendations that could help improve the future for women in the profession, these include:

Improving access to mentoring and career adviceEncouraging women in leadership Improving access to part-time working and flexible training

· Ensuring that the arrangements for revalidation are clear and explicit

Women should be encouraged to apply for the Clinical Excellence Awards Scheme Ensuring that the medical workforce planning apparatus takes account of the increasing number of women in the medical profession Improving access to childcareImproving support for carersChampions are identified to help fulfil the recommendations

Baroness Deech, Chair of the National Working Group on Women in Medicine said:

“There are now more women entering medical school than men. Our report looks at the obstacles to the full exercise of every doctor’s potential - from the decision at school to study medicine, through training, work, maternity leave, childcare, progress through the profession to leadership, retirement and pensions - with special emphasis on the choices and problems that women face.

“Given the illustrious history of women in medicine in the UK, it is fitting that the UK is seen to lead the way on this issue at a national level. We should make our goal a profession where every woman and man goes as far as they wish and as far as their talents permit.

“Our report focuses very much on the implementation of change. In order to achieve continuity of patient care and the best use of every doctor, the reforms must be tackled.”

Sir Liam Donaldson added:

“I welcome Baroness Deech’s report, which offers a clear set of recommendations with the aim of tackling the obstacles that continue to prevent female doctors from furthering their careers to the best of their ability.

“In my 2006 Annual Report, I identified that the problem is not access to medical school, but rather how we ensure the female medical workforce is able to fulfil its potential once in employment. The steps outlined here, such as improved mentoring support and the option of part-time training could go a long way to achieving this.

“I will now ensure that the Department of Health considers each of the recommendations proposed in the report before deciding how to proceed.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

* The Chief Medical Officer’s 2006 Annual report identified an under-representation of women in senior grades of the medical profession, despite representing a proportion of medical school intake. This number has increased by 4,091 - from 492 (24.4% of total admissions) in 1960/61 to 4,583 (56.2% of total admissions) in 2008/09.

Baroness Deech, Chair of the National Working Group on Women in Medicine will launch the report at 6pm on Tuesday 13 October at the Royal Society. Media are invited to attend. Interview bids will be considered on a case by case basis. Baroness Deech will be available for interviews on the morning of 13 October and at the launch. Please register your interest and contact the DH Press Office on 020 7210 5221 An embargoed full copy of the report will be available on request from the Department of Health Press Office from Monday 12 October.

Contacts:

Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221
NDS.DH@coi.gsi.gov.uk

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