Pregnancy and Maternity Leave
Locum payments in general practice to cover a woman doctor during maternity leave, are at the discretion of the local Primary Care Trust (PCT). Several PCTs have decided to pay nothing at all towards these locum costs (which are considerable). This will deter practices from employing a woman doctor.
MWF is campaigning for a national agreement, so that locum payments are uniform across the UK and are not left to the discretion of PCTs (or their successor), to ensure that practices are not penalised for employing a woman doctor. Women in hospital medicine should not have to continue night shifts beyond 28 weeks pregnancy, unless they wish to do so. However, they should be prepared to continue other on-call duties, such as weekends and Public Holidays, so that the extra burden does not fall on their colleagues. Ideally pregnancy should be cost-neutral to each general practice and Hospital Trust, and work-load neutral to colleagues.
A big problem at present in hospital medicine is that when a woman junior doctor or consultant goes on maternity leave, a suitable locum cannot be found (or the Trust does not wish to employ one for reasons of cost). Locum cover then falls on the remaining doctors, often for no extra pay, leading to resentment and sometimes victimization of the absent doctor. A possible solution is a centrally held 'Parental budget' to which Hospital Trusts and PCTs can apply, to cover the locum costs.