Introduction Many challenges lay ahead in the future development of the NHS including the changing workforce demographic, tighter funding and the prospect of increasing demands on services. Currently in the specialty of Gastroenterology 15% of consultants and 34% of trainees are female. To help realise the problems faced in workforce planning by this change of demographic we have tried to identify the current working patterns and perceptions of satisfaction and work-life balance amongst female Consultant Gastroenterologists.
Methods A survey was developed using previously validated questions, these were then piloted amongst a group of female hospital doctors to ensure that they were fit for purpose. A total of 110 Female Gastroenterologists were then emailed with a web based link to the survey along with information explaining what the survey was for. The responses were managed by RAND Europe, an independent non-profit organisation who have experience of similar projects.
Results There was a 63% response rate. The majority of respondents were between the ages of 41 to 50, and highly experienced of the NHS having worked for at least 15 years. 90% had achieved some form of higher degree, but only 2% worked in academic posts. 76% of respondents had had children, 73% of those felt that they provided the majority of childcare in comparison to their partner. 48% had delayed having children until they had become a consultant and 41% felt that they had had fewer children because of their career. A minority felt that their gender and parental status had negatively affected their career. The majority of respondents worked long hours with 30% working more than 49 hours per week. 11% of respondents worked part time, 19% were aware of a flexible working policy but not able to use it while 35% were not aware that one existed. Only 38% percent were satisfied with the recognition they got for their work. Almost 20% had experienced bullying from either mangers or other colleagues in the preceding 12 months and 27% had received harassment from patients or patient’s relatives. Almost 45% felt more stressed than usual and that their work life had a negative impact on their life. Although the majority of respondents felt happy with their current lifestyle, 10% were dissatisfied with their life, and 27% would change it if they could.
Conclusion Current female Gastroenertologists are competently educated but underrepresented in academic posts. They are more likely to be the main care giver at home but face inflexible working arrangements. They reported high levels of bullying as well as a perceived lack of value from their NHS employer. To maintain a committed and motivated medical workforce the issues highlighted in this survey will need to be addressed in future workforce planning.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared.