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British Society of Gastroenterology Position Statement on Flexible Working

Updated on: 08 Dec 2021   First published on 07 Dec 2021

Purpose of Statement

The gastroenterology community is expanding and developing, including the welcome increasing proportion of women in the consultant workforce, and a growing appreciation within the BSG and wider society of the need for equality and inclusiveness. A number of factors are contributing to a rising proportion of gastroenterologists wishing to work less than full time (LTFT), including personal choice and external commitments, a desire to adjust clinical commitments in the years preceding retirement, and concerns regarding the potential negative personal effect of high work intensity.

In order to raise and set national standards and promote equal opportunities for all  people involved in Gastroenterology, the BSG has endorsed the following position statement.  It also contains information about returning to clinical duties after a period of absence whether due to a career break, parental leave, caring responsibilities, a period of physical or mental ill health, or sanctioned time out of training.

Principles

  • The BSG fully supports the rights of all of its members across the UK to be afforded the opportunity to work and / or to train flexibly.
  • The application process for flexible working or training should be equitable and streamlined as far as is practicable.
  • Employers, departmental lead clinicians, and Training Program Directors should be empowered to facilitate flexible working and training arrangements.
  • Clinicians who wish to work or train flexibly should be offered the same clinical and non-clinical opportunities as full-time colleagues wherever practicable. The principle of equal opportunity should be regarded as the default position and any derogation from this should be exceptional and discussed with the individual affected.
  • Those working or training LTFT should undertake the same appraisal process as their colleagues working or training full time, and be subject to the same rigorous standards with an appropriate adjustment for time spent working.
  • Anyone involved in the appraisal or assessment of LTFT gastroenterologists should have undergone appropriate training. Statutory bodies involved in the regular assessment of LTFT workers (e.g. Specialist Training Committees) should be encouraged to have representation with a declared interest and expertise in flexible working.
  • Returning to work after a period of absence should be a supported process that puts patient and clinician safety and wellbeing at the heart of the process.

Return to Clinical Duties after a Period of Absence

A return to clinical duties after a sustained period of absence can be challenging for all parties. It is important to manage this proactively with a mutually agreed bespoke action plan to both support the returning clinician and to ensure clinical standards are maintained. This plan should be discussed prior to a return to work or training that includes an agreement about future working hours and pattern, and any additional support that may be required. A designated mentor or supervisor should be assigned to support the process.  Where absence is related to parental leave, it may be beneficial to have involvement in work-related activities and education. This includes the use of occasional “Keep in Touch” or “Shared Parental Leave in Touch” days.

Authors

Dr Shairoz Samji; LTFT representative to the BSG Training Committee. Dr Samji is a newly qualified Consultant Gastroenterologist and Endoscopy Training Lead in East Kent. She trained LTFT for childcare reasons and won the BSG TS Leadership and Management Prize 2019.

Dr Matthew Cowan is the Chair of the BSG Training Committee. Dr Cowan is a Consultant Gastroenterologist in Surrey who also works less than full time.


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