Flexible working and wellbeing

Information on the support the RCP provides for flexible working and careers.

Everyone is entitled to a good work-life balance, and flexible options are available for physicians. Improving the working lives of medical staff contributes directly to better patient care, as we laid out in our 2015 report Work and wellbeing in the NHS: why staff health matters to patient care.

Flexibility in training and working practice is becoming increasingly relevant to the modern workforce. The RCP census of consultant physicians and higher specialty trainees in the UK shows the number of consultants working less than full-time (LTFT) has now risen to 23%, from 13% in 2007. While women are still more likely to work LTFT (42% compared to 36% in 2007), the proportion of men working LTFT is rising rapidly (10% compared to 4% in 2007).

As well as being the preference of younger trainees and consultants, it enables physicians to keep working later in their career. The RCP is keen to encourage continuing professional development (CPD) and leadership for those who work LTFT.

The RCP supports the champion of flexible training role, which was included in the 2016 doctors in training contract. It will help create a shift in culture within the NHS, to offer more flexibility and support.

What the RCP is doing

The RCP flexibility and wellbeing reference group exists to support RCP officers and staff to address the workforce shortage by offering expert advice and guidance on flexible working and wellbeing.

The group’s work is informed by the data we collect. In addition to our annual census, we survey our fellows and members about their wellbeing. If there is anything you want the group to consider, please email policy@rcplondon.ac.uk.

The RCP also manages the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges’ flexible careers committee. It brings together college and faculty representatives, plus representatives from the BMA, NHS Employers and the Medical Women’s Federation.

RCP resources

Our Later careers guidance aims to help doctors, NHS leadership and policy makers stem the drain of expertise and skills from the profession.

Mythbusters: addressing common misunderstandings about appraisal and revalidation is designed to facilitate the process of information gathering and prepare physicians for appraisal. It aims to help physicians focus on what is actually required – rather than what is imagined is required – to collate a portfolio of relevant supporting information to confirm fitness to practice.

Effective team-working reduces medical errors, increases patient safety and improves patient mortality rates. Crucially, it also leads to reduced stress and higher job satisfaction. Our Improving teams in healthcare resources are designed to be of practical use to all members of the healthcare team whether a medical student, junior doctor, physician associate or medical director. 

Other resources