Letter to Jeremy Hunt

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18 April 2016

Jeremy Hunt MP
Health Secretary
Department of Health
Richmond House
79 Whitehall

                                                                                                                           18th April 2016
Dear Secretary of State,

The Medical Women’s Federation write to express our grave concern over the imposition of the junior doctor contract in England that has led to the unprecedented withdrawal of emergency cover on April 26th and 27th.

The contract for doctors in training to be introduced in August this year, increases hours worked outside the daytime working of the NHS. It restricts access to training opportunities, organised teaching and experience gained in working alongside experts and senior colleagues. It is widely recognised that spreading the existing doctors in training more thinly across the seven days is not going to provide a safe seven-day NHS.

The Equality Analysis, undertaken by the Department of Health and published on the 31st of March acknowledges that the contract discriminates against women, parents and carers as well as doctors with disability or ill health. It particularly affects those doctors, irrespective of gender, who are working part time during their training years. As the majority of these are women, it is particularly disappointing especially in the light of the recommendations of the Gender Pay Gap report published last month by the Women and Equalities Select Committee.

Women doctors are dedicated, talented and conscientious in their support for patient safety and the quality of care provided in the NHS. Our concern is that this imposition will result in women doctors stepping out of acute specialty training into more family friendly posts or even being driven out of medicine altogether. This will have dramatic consequences for recruitment and retention of doctors, particularly as the percentage of women doctors increases.

No one wants this strike to go ahead. We urge you to please step back and reconsider your decision and return to the negotiating table.

Our concern is that this imposition of a contract on the very doctors who are the future of health care will have serious implications for the provision of care in the already understaffed and underfunded NHS.

Yours sincerely

Sally Signature



Dr Sally J Davies
President of The Medical Women’s Federation

Blog Post - Dr Clarissa Fabre

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11 April 2016

One of the UN's Millenium Development Goals was the reduction of maternal mortality, and in many countries very important advances have been made. However there is still a long way to go. Dr Fabre has been MWIA’s representative to the WHO since 2012, and has become involved in promoting the worldwide use of the Safe Childbirth Checklist. This is a tool developed by the Harvard School of Public Health and the WHO for reducing maternal mortality. She was delighted that an MWIA member from the African region was part of a very successful pilot of the checklist. One of her aims is to spread its use worldwide via the MWIA network.

She has been closely involved in the MWIA Clinical handbook on Violence against Women and Girls, focusing particularly on prevention and the involvement of men and boys. She spoke recently at MWIA’s parallel event at the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women in New York on the subject. Her aim now is to develop a national strategy for the UK looking at the role of doctors in addressing violence against women and girls.

MWIA can be a powerful voice and a strong force in advancing the cause of women’s rights and women’s welfare, as well as improving the lives of women doctors. If successful, she would aim to harness the energy and enthusiasm of key women in every region, and support and coordinate these forces for practical advances in every part of the world.

Dr Clarissa Fabre, Past President of MWF (2010-2012) is standing for President-elect of MWIA in July this year at MWIA’s 30th International Congress in Vienna. To see the full list of candidates standing for election please click here.

Click here to book now for the conference in Vienna.


MWF Response to Equality Impact Assessment

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01 April 2016

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MWF are disappointed and dismayed by the Equality Analysis undertaken by the Department of Health on the proposed junior doctor contract, released yesterday. This contract is to be imposed upon doctors in training in England from August 2016.

The analysis acknowledges that changes in the contract will disadvantage women particularly those training part time, carers and lone parents. However it states, "any indirect adverse effect which may occur is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim".

MWF are concerned about suggestions in the analysis that women doctors who are mothers need to seek informal childcare for the increased number of evenings and Saturdays worked. This particularly affects many doctors, predominantly women, without local family and support. Junior doctors are entitled under the Human Rights Act to a family life and under their educational contract to specialty training enabling career progression and adequate preparation for professional examinations.

The spreading of a limited number of junior doctors more thinly across seven days is not going to achieve safer care or improved training of our future specialists. It is more likely to result in women doctors stepping into specialties with less acute commitment, moving out of training or leaving medicine.

You can read the equality analysis and the family test of the new contract here. 

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Tavistock Square, London,
Tel: 020 7387 7765

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