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It was widely assumed that the feminisation of medicine would increase demand for flexible working practices.1 Nearly 70 of medical students are female and by 2012 male doctors will be outnumbered. However, since 2004 the number of UK flexible trainees has remained consistent at 2000 and places on the flexible careers scheme (FCS) have disappeared. We now have a situation where there is an inverse correlation between the number of women entering medicine and flexible working.
It all started so promisingly 6 years ago when the National Health Service (NHS) Plan was launched, pledging its support for more flexible working patterns.2 3 This was followed by the Improving Working Lives standard in which NHS Employers committed to a host of policies and practices designed to help staff maintain a healthy balance between their work and outside commitments.4 As if to underline its significance to the future of workforce planning, the Improving Working Lives standard was one of seven key work areas identified by NHS Employers where real progress was predicted in the next 5 years.
FLEXIBILITY UNDER THREAT
Yet in reality flexible training had been …