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Surgery, pregnancy and parenthood

We believe in supporting surgeons during pregnancy and throughout parenthood. In 2019, we scrapped membership fees for those on parental leave.

Below we have signposted key areas to consider and useful resources.

Working while pregnant

  • A risk assessment must be carried out, and arrangements made to mitigate any risks identified. You may wish to take advice from Occupational Health. You are entitled to paid leave to attend all your maternity appointments, including parenting classes
  • The law allows a pregnant woman to decide whether to adjust her duties for X-ray exposure
  • Ultimately, you can decide what is right for you e.g. when to stop on calls or night shifts
  • Don’t forget to submit a MATB1 certificate to your employer. This will be provided by your GP or midwife at 20 weeks and enable you to claim Statutory Maternity Pay
  • Find out more about pregnant employees' rights


Maternity leave

  • Any NHS employee is entitled to Maternity Leave, for up to 12 months. It can start 11 weeks before the baby is due, and you continue to accrue pension contributions and annual leave
  •  You must let your employer know, in writing, at least 15 weeks before the baby is due, of the date you intend to start your maternity leave
  •  You can attend optional, paid Keep in Touch days

Other types of leave

Returning to work

  • You need to give your employer at least 28 days notice of your intention to return
  •  The Health and Safety rights of pregnancy also apply a woman who is breastfeeding or has given birth within the last 12 months. If you are breastfeeding, plans for expressing milk e.g. a private space, time and cool storage should be identified as part of a back to work assessment
  • You have a right to return to your job under your original contract or you may choose to return less-than-full-time. Read more about flexible training or working, or contact our flexible working advisor at
  • The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has “return to practice” guidance for anyone who has been away for over three months for any reason
  • Childcare, whether your partner, a nursery, a nanny, family, friends or other support should be planned ahead, and back-up plans made in case of unexpected emergencies

The above content is correct as of November 2019. Please be advised that facts may change and you should always refer to the current guidelines.

Parents in Surgery report and Diversity site.

In March 2021, the Kennedy Review made a series of 16 recommendations designed to deliver ambitious changes and make a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion within our College and the wider surgical profession. A key recommendation was to deliver a flagship Parents in Surgery project to help current and prospective surgeons balance parenthood and a surgical career.

We've launched a new site dedicated to showcasing our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work, activity and initiatives. Check out our new page for Parents in Surgery and read our recommendations that may mitigate the challenges faced by parents in surgery.

Further resources

Maternity advice and guidance

BMA maternity leave checklist

NHS Employers General maternity guidance for rotational doctors and dentists in training 

GOV.UK leave and pay calculator

HSE: Working with X-rays when pregnant

The Bone & Joint Journal: Occupational radiation exposure and pregnancy in orthopaedics

GMC statement on absences from training in the Foundation programme

Returning to work advice and guidance 

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges: Return to practice guidance (for any leave over three months)

BMA advice: Returning to work and your rights as a working parent

HSE information for new and expectant mothers

RCS England: Flexible training and working in surgery

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