Guide exposes worst - and best - employers

March 16, 2007

BMA gives lowdown on medical schools. Melanie Newman reports

A new employment guide that allows academics to compare medical schools, warts and all, was launched this week.

The British Medical Association's University Employment Good Practice Guide allows would-be employees to assess their prospective employer on measures ranging from research rating to childcare provision.

It was welcomed by University and College Union leaders as a way of encouraging improved employment practice, which could be applied across the sector.

The guide compares employment terms and conditions, including the opportunities for sabbaticals and the provision of childcare support. It lists research assessment exercise and teaching quality ratings and ratios of full-time to part-time, male to female and clinical to non-clinical staff.

Anita Holdcroft, deputy chairman of the BMA's medical academic staff committee, said: "Women academics may be particularly interested in comparing opportunities for flexible working."

More than a third of schools do not allow academics to work flexibly, the guide shows. St George's Medical School, Swansea and St Andrews University do not offer childcare support, while Hull York Medical School lacks a policy on sabbaticals. Also listed are statistics on numbers of staff promoted internally and recruited into the schools in the past 12 months.

The guide reveals that male academics outnumber their female counterparts at Oxford University's Medical School by 85 to 15 and that 89 per cent of staff there work full time.

All the UK medical schools are included in the book, except those at Dundee and Brighton and Sussex universities, which did not submit data.

Michael Rees, chairman of the BMA's medical academic staff committee, said:

"Each higher education institution is an autonomous organisation, and there can be a variety of conditions of employment.

"For a doctor used to the uniformity of conditions in the National Health Service, this can be very daunting."

System fails to make the grade

A computerised application system for fellowships and lectureships has been scrapped after complaints that it did not identify the most promising candidates.

The Medical Training Application Service was abandoned after an Academy of Medical Royal Colleges review. Applicants rejected for interview after the first round of applications will now be reassessed.

The British Medical Association suffered a host of problems, including inconsistent scoring systems, which, it said, meant some highly qualified academics did not get an interview. The change may come too late to address a fall in applications to academic training posts.

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