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Independents' Day

Female GPs are penalised for having children

It is good if the Government is taking the initiative on the issue of women in medicine as the situation at the moment is very frustrating 'Women GPs to get new rights after review calls for a step change in attitudes').

I finished training in 2003 and first had a salaried job with a six- to 12-month extendible contract. I had to leave that job as I needed IVF treatment and the employer was not prepared to allow me paid leave. I began locum work after that, which of course didn't pay for maternity or sick leave. Luckily, I was offered four sessions in a salaried position and when I got pregnant with twins I did have maternity pay.

But my son was born with Down's syndrome and oxygen dependency, and getting the help I needed from trained nurses was not just expensive but almost impossible. Then the employer wanted me to change my days as there was a partnership shuffle at the practice, and as I could not get any nurses on the day they wanted me to change to, I was forced to go down to two sessions with no notice.

Sadly my son passed away earlier this year. I am now doing two sessions in this practice and five sessions (without a contract) in another practice, which says it doesn't want to have a contract as it receives insufficient funding.

It seems women doctors are penalised for having a family.

Name and address supplied, GP in Surrey

I am a partner, but being ancient I went to medical school when most medical schools had 10% quotas for women entrants, and having qualified did further training and got a partnership.

I was paying the same superannuation as a man would, but it gave me - or my family if I died - fewer benefits, and this is still the case today!

From Dr Heather Kinsella, Belper, Derbyshire

A system where the PCT funds tax breaks or provides maternity pay for salaried GPs is worth exploring.

I've just started as a salaried GP at a PMS practice but my previous NHS experience has not been counted into my maternity allowance.

Understandably, the practice is reluctant to offer more than the basic allowance for an employee who has been with them for less than a year - but at the same time I do not see why the benefit of my years of experience should not be recognised, it as would be in a GMS practice.

From Dr Sylvia Kama, Sheffield

Female symbol stethoscope

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