A campaign group promoting flexible working across the NHS is encouraging organisations to Break the Bias this International Women’s Day by asking leaders to talk about how they juggle their lives in and outside work.
FlexNHS was started in 2018, by Kate Jarman, who works at Milton Keynes University Hospital and Aasha Cowey who works at Surrey and Borders Partnership, with the aim of enabling all NHS staff to access flexible working.
Milton Keynes University Hospital became the first to offer enhanced flexible working, along with a raft of measures to support staff through the life events many would experience over a 40-year career in the NHS.
The FlexNHS campaign has worked in partnership with author, presenter, influencer, and flexible working campaigner Anna Whitehouse – also known as MotherPukka – and been supported by the NHS Confederation’s Health and Care Women’s Leaders Network.
In September 2021, the NHS People Plan pledge to give staff the ability to ask for flexible working from day one of employment, became a contractual right for 1.3 million people working in the NHS.
Kate Jarman, Director of Corporate Affairs at Milton Keynes University Hospital, said: “FlexNHS is a campaign launched and run by two working mums who want the NHS to be the best, most flexible, most family-friendly, most life-friendly employer in the world.
“The campaign is all about improving working lives through more flexibility throughout careers. We tackle the myths that surround flexible working (it’s not just for parents and clinical staff ), the poor practice, and the cultures that see people leave the NHS because they can’t make work work for them.
“We also share where organisations are getting it right – showcasing the work of hospitals, ambulance services, GP surgeries, CCGs, councils and national bodies who are doing great work promoting and enabling flexible working.
“One of the most important ways people working in the NHS can support and enable flexible working is simply to talk about how they juggle their lives in and outside work. Whether that’s doing the school run, caring for an elderly relative, studying, or pursuing a hobby. Talking about flexible working helps promote the kind of culture where people are empowered to ask for flexibility and managers are empowered to say yes.
“We want to keep people working in the NHS for their entire working lives – that might be upwards of 40 years. We ask a lot of our staff – and the past two years in particular have demonstrated how much they give in the course of their work – we need to give the same back.”