Maternity Advice


Medicine and parenthood are two of the most rewarding yet challenging jobs on offer. Whether you choose to have children at medical school or after graduation the challenge will be to successfully combine the two roles. How to achieve this will be different for each individual, and will depend on her unique circumstances.

Unfortunately, NHS maternity arrangements are complicated and as a profession many women doctors appear to have limited knowledge of their rights to leave, pay and working conditions. Please read on for more info. 

Further information below

Sources of help & information

Maternity issues for doctors in training - new guidance November 2010

A new factsheet from NHS Employers provides guidance for doctors in training who need to plan maternity leave. The factsheet includes information on timelines for telling your employer you are pregnant, when to take maternity leave, maternity pay, and advice for doctors in training who may be moving between employers. It also includes a helpful flowchart, which gives an indication of actions to take and what to expect when planning maternity leave. 

Line Manager / Lead Clinician/ Human Resources (HR) Maternity Advisor/ Childcare coordinator

If you work within an NHS Hospital Trust it would probably be helpful to inform these 4 individuals of your pregnancy although you are under no obligation to do so unless you wish to get maternity leave and pay. You must also tell your employer (HR) in writing before the end of the 15th week before your expected date of delivery (i.e. by the time you are 24 weeks pregnant) if you wish to take maternity leave. He /she will also want to know the date you want your maternity leave to start and of your intention to return to work for the NHS afterwards. You will also need to supply a Mat B1 form (from your midwife or GP).

The Human Resources Advisor will talk through the practical matters (e.g. your employer has to carry out a risk assessment) and will discuss the arrangements and options available to you at a Maternity Interview.
Often the Childcare Coordinator within each NHS trust will act in a pastoral role for pregnant women. Childcare coordinators usually have a wealth of knowledge in maternity matters (not just childcare) and often are mothers themselves!

Deanery and Training Programme Director

If you are in a training post it is also important to inform the Deanery and the Training Programme Director (TPD) of your pregnancy. If you have been training Less than Full Time (LTFTT), or wish to do so in the future, you should also inform the Associate Dean for LTFTT.

"So you want to be a medical mum?" by Dr. Emma Hill Oxford University Press

ISBN 978-0-19-923758-6
This book is an excellent resource on matters relating to maternity. It can be borrowed by MWF members, please contact Central Office (Contact Us). This book has a useful chapter entitled "Pregnancy as an undergraduate".

The BMA has a lot of information on Maternity rights/leave/pay. However, most of this information is in a restricted form on their website and therefore only available to members BMA members can also talk to advisors by telephone and this can be particularly helpful.

The Government website has information on statutory maternity pay. Click here to visit it

Women in SurgeryWinS website

Pregnancy as an Undergraduate

Sources of support which may be useful to medical students who are planning a pregnancy or who are pregnant:
Medical School welfare officers/tutors
University Student Union welfare and educational services
University medical staff or medical centre
The student's own GP
BMA Regional Services
BMA Counseling services

The MWF has guidance notes "Childcare support for student Parents" available to MWF members on request from Central Office (see Contact Us)

Maternity Leave

If you are a doctor working under the NHS scheme either part-time or full-time, you will be entitled to paid and unpaid maternity leave if:
-You have worked for 12 months continuously without a break of more than 3 months, with one or more NHS employers by the time you are about 28 weeks pregnant. You must also intend to return to work for the NHS either full-time or part-time for a minimum of 3 months full time or part-time equivalent.

How long is Maternity Leave?
You are entitled to take up to 52 weeks in total ( 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML), plus 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave (AML)) however, you are not entitled to 52 weeks of pay (see below). You are also entitled to time off work, with pay, for antenatal care.

Whilst on Maternity Leave you continue to accrue annual leave – however, you may need to discuss this before your maternity leave particularly if you are changing trusts/employer

When will Maternity Leave commence?
Your maternity leave can start at any time after 11 weeks before the baby is due (29th week of pregnancy) and you must give at least 28 days notice. You can change you mind about when you start or finish maternity leave but again you must give 28 days notice of any change of start date and 8 weeks notice if you change the return date.

For Further information
"So you want to be a medical mum" Chapters 8 & 9
NHS - Prgnancy & Baby

Maternity Pay

Under the NHS scheme you are entitled to:

NB: Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid by your employer / Maternity Allowance (MA) is paid by social security. Whichever you receive will depend on your circumstances.

How is maternity pay calculated?
Maternity pay is calculated on your average weekly earnings for the 8 weeks ending with the qualifying week. The qualifying week is the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) i.e. your pay between about 16 and 24 weeks of your pregnancy. It is normally based on gross earnings including London weightings and banding supplements.

NB: Maternity Pay is a complicated subject and therefore beyond the scope of this web-page. The basic principles for its calculation have been outlined above but individual circumstances will vary and it is therefore important to obtain further information e.g. from BMA. For example changing Trusts during pregnancy can particularly complicate matters or changing from University to NHS employment (see below).

Further Information
"So you want to be a medical Mum" - chapter 8

Maternity – General Practice

ST1&2 General Practice
Whilst you are in the hospital part of your VTS scheme you are employed by the NHS and are therefore entitled to the maternity benefits outlined above.

ST3 General Practice
As an ST3 you are on a contract of employment with the training practice rather than the NHS but it is generally agreed that you are still entitled to the NHS scheme (or similar). It is worth checking your contract and entitlements and discussing it with your trainer.
As an ST3 (GP) you will usually be entitled 26 weeks paid maternity leave and 26 weeks unpaid maternity leave:
- 8 weeks full pay, less SMP or MA
- followed by 14 weeks half-pay plus any SMP or MA (as long as the total doesn't exceed full pay)
- then 4 weeks at the standard rate of SMP or MA.
- then 26 weeks unpaid, if you choose to take the full 52 weeks

Salaried GPs
Salaried GPs may be entitled to both paid and unpaid maternity leave, but the details should be outlined in the individual's contract. However, you will need to check this.
Further sources of information:
BMA Salried GP's Handbook
BMA members can also contact an advisor by telephone

GP partners
GP partners will have their maternity leave and pay outlined in their individual contract. In principle, you will continue to take full drawings for 6 months, but the maternity locum payments may be covered by a combination of you yourself, the Primary Care Trust, and your remaining partners.

MWF Campaigns
Maternity Locum Pay for GPs is one of MWF's hot topics and we are looking at the current local variations in PCT funding of this. Currently, it is discretionary and each PCT can make their own decisions. Although this seems very unfair, the concern is that if we push for uniformity, the answer might be that they give nothing at all.

Maternity - Academic Medicine

It is important to realise that if you are employed by a university, on a university contract that this does not count as "12 months continuous service" under the NHS Maternity Leave scheme, even if it was with an honorary NHS contract.

If however, you are employed in Academic Medicine by the NHS on an NHS honorary contract this period of employment does count towards your continuous service. It is therefore important to check this out very carefully.If you have been in research and then return to hospital medicine or general practice it is important to be aware that you may not be entitled to maternity benefits within the NHS for some time because the university post will have broken the "NHS continuous service".

Doctors in Training

FY1: The GMC state that if you have more than 5 weeks of leave (maternity/paternity/sick leave) for any reason during FY1 you will not receive a certificate of completion of the FY1 year. Therefore you will not be able to enter FY2.
FY2: The same applies for FY2 and you will not be able to enter ST1
It is therefore important to contact your local Deanery to discuss your options.
If you have been in Less than Full time Training (LTFTT) you should also inform the Associate Dean for LTFTT (see LTFTT tab)

Please visit the BMA website for further information on maternity leave issues.