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Gender, flexibility and workforce in the NHS: a qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/05/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Health Planning and Management
Issue number3
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)740-756
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date7/02/24
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Data from the General Medical Council show that the number of female doctors registered to practise in the UK continues to grow at a faster rate than the number of male doctors. Our research critically discusses the impact of this gender-based shift, considering how models of medical training are still ill-suited to supporting equity and inclusivity within the workforce, with particular impacts for women despite this gender shift. Drawing on data from our research project Mapping underdoctored areas: the impact of medical training pathways on NHS workforce distribution and health inequalities, this paper explores the experiences of doctors working in the NHS, considering how policies around workforce and beyond have impacted people's willingness and ability to continue in their chosen career path. There is clear evidence that women are underrepresented in some specialties such as surgery, and at different career stages including in senior leadership roles, and our research focuses on the structural factors that contribute to reinforcing these under-representations. Medical education and training are known to be formative points in doctors' lives, with long-lasting impacts for NHS service provision. By understanding in detail how these pathways inadvertently shape where doctors live and work, we will be able to consider how best to change existing systems to provide patients with timely and appropriate access to healthcare. We take a cross-disciplinary theoretical approach, bringing historical, spatiotemporal and sociological insights to healthcare problems. Here, we draw on our first 50 interviews with practising doctors employed in the NHS in areas that struggle to recruit and retain doctors, and explore the gendered nature of career biographies. We also pay attention to the ways in which doctors carve their own career pathways out of, or despite of, personal and professional disruptions.