Health CommitteeWritten evidence from Dr Judith Evans, Consultant Surgeon, Plymouth (ETWP 83)

I am a member of Council of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, but these comments are my own.

The President of RCS Edinburgh has submitted a full document to you. He is aware that I am also writing.

Part time training or flexible training schemes as currently in existence have not yet addressed the issue of women reaching the top of the Profession.

As there are now in excess of 50% female medical students in year one (in some schools over 60%) this issue has to be addressed.

For many years I was regional representative on the WIST “Women in to Surgical Training” Committee. This was part funded by the Department of Health.

Recently, I believe about four years ago, this funding was stopped. When we asked “Why?” We were told this was because we had been so successful, we had doubled the number of female consultants. But this was only from 3% to 6%. Nevertheless it was a good statistic for those who chose to hide behind it.

I have advised young women who are keen to enter surgery since 1990. I was in a position to tell them, that if they wanted to go part time or work flexibly for some of their training it could be arranged, through the various schemes.

In the 90s part time training posts were centrally funded, and were supernumerary.

Nowadays there is open competition and anyone who admits to wanting to be part time for some of their training puts a host unit at an immediate disadvantage.

The advice we all give to those who wish to train part time is now “Don’t tell anyone until after the interviews.”

I strongly believe that if part time training were to be re-instated as a supernumerary opportunity, many of the problems of retaining women in hospital medicine and surgery would be resolved.

In the current situation it would also have a positive effect on medical workforce unemployment, and prevent expensively trained graduates from giving up medicine altogether, or leaving the country.

I am happy to provide more details should there be any interest.

This issue is not gender specific, there are also men who need to train part time for some of their careers, who are currently similarly disadvantaged.

December 2011

Prepared 22nd May 2012