New consultant contract needs more flexibility for young doctors, senior leader saysBMJ 2018; 360 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1052 (Published 05 March 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k1052
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The author of this article makes an important point regarding the need for flexibility in order to increase retention amongst young doctors. This could also enable substantial progress to be made with regards to clear gender bias that is found within medicine, one that has unflatteringly been brought to light in recent months.
With 65% of consultants identifying as male in the UK, the proposition of increased flexibility may go a significant way towards addressing the lack of women in in these positions. This ratio seen in top level positions becomes increasingly troubling when one considers that the ratio of Male to Female physicians at more junior levels is close to 1:1. With a system in dire need of doctors it is not only unacceptable but also unsustainable to ignore barriers preventing women from reaching consultant level. Woman are far more likely than men to pursue part time work following the birth of child, and a contract that is fair to all should ensure this need for greater flexibility is taken into account.
Regrettably medicine hardly has a gleaming report card when it comes to gender equality. Indeed a recent BBC investigation reported a consultant gender pay gap of 12%. Whilst there are no doubt complex factors surrounding this pay discrepancy, it is hard to argue that there are not systemic issues that need addressing.
Increasing job flexibility within the medical profession may not reduce this pay gap, and will certainly not be enough to rid the NHS of all inequalities. However, it can go a long way to improving the imbalance in representation seen amongst top doctors. At the very least it is a statement of intent, and undoubtedly a step in the right direction.
Competing interests: No competing interests