Are part time doctors better doctors?

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7138.1169a (Published 11 April 1998)
Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1169.2

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Doctors need flexible training and flexible jobs

  1. Ilfra Goldberg, Associate dean, postgraduate medicine, Thames Region,
  2. Ri Hornung, Dean of postgraduate general practice, South Thames
  1. Thames Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education, University of London, London WC1N 3EJ
  2. Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Norwich NR1 3SR
  3. King's College Medical School, Weston Education Centre, London SE5 7DF
  4. Goodinge Health Centre, London N7 9EW
  5. St John's Health Centre, Twickenham TW11 9HG

    EDITOR—Gibson raised some serious points for further discussion about part time working in career grades.1 Kumar contributes nothing to an informed debate on this topic, and his argument runs counter to the views of respected national bodies such as the Royal College of Physicians.2 He states: “Part timers are no good for any medical specialty where there may be a need for quick action….” He says that he works 50 hours of the 168 in a week. This means that, for the remaining 118 hours, someone from his team has to be available, or there is no one to undertake the responsibilities. A team provides continuity of service to patients, and part timers can be highly effective members of a team.

    Overall, some 8% of specialist registrars are training on a flexible basis; in Oxford, Kumar's region, this proportion is 15.3% (Department of Health, annual medical workforce census). It is therefore unfortunate that he should seek a confrontation at the very time when flexible and full time training are so much more closely integrated and flexible training leads successfully to consultant posts. The same constraints that lead doctors to ask for flexible training are often still present when they seek a career grade post, and these doctors will seek part time consultant posts.

    In some …

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