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Collins Stewart Raises Target Price For HCL

More female doctors will lead to rising demand for locums, says HCL

HCL, the UKs largest specialist health and social care recruiter, said today that the rising proportion of women doctors will lead to a greater emphasis on flexible working and the use of locums in the medical workforce.

The company, which provides doctors of all grades and specialties to the NHS and private sector, was responding to a study by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) which forecasts that the majority of UK doctors in both hospitals and general practice will be female after 2017.

The study shows that women currently account for 40% of all doctors, including 42% of GPs and 28% of consultants, and this proportion is set to increase significantly over the next eight years.

Since women doctors overwhelmingly tend to prefer part time and flexible hours, this trend has considerable implications for medical workforce planning, with hospitals and GP surgeries having to rely increasingly on banks of temporary and flexible doctors, HCL said.

Julian Cater, analyst at Collins Stewart, agreed. Raising HCLs target price to 250p, he said: The implication is clear that the gender shift within the NHS is going to steadily drive demand for more temporary employees over the medium-term.

Kate Bleasdale, Executive Vice Chairman of HCL, said: This re-balancing of the medical profession towards women is something that we have been predicting for some time.

The preference of women doctors for part time and flexible hours is well known, and will leave gaps in hospital rotas that will need to be filled by staffing companies like HCL, as well as more doctors seeking to work as locums.

We anticipate rising demand from our clients over the next few years as the proportion of doctors continues to shift toward women, and hospital managers have to be able to tap into a large bank of flexible and appropriately qualified doctors in order to ensure that rotas are sufficiently covered. And as locum work itself is an ideal way of working flexibly, we also anticipate a rise in the number of candidates signing up with us as the number of female doctors increases.

We are currently seeing momentous changes in the way the medical profession works in the UK: new restrictions on immigrant doctors, the European Working Time Directive, and now evidence of the rapidly increasing proportion of female doctors.

At HCL we are experienced in anticipating and planning for demographic changes such as these, and we are committed to working closely with the NHS and private sector to get the best results for both doctors and patients.

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