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Returning to work

Returning to work after maternity leave can seem daunting. However, many female surgeons have been in this position before you – including your colleagues. Take time to plan your return to work to give yourself the best chance of a smooth transition. 

Maternity rights

The Health and Safety rights of pregnancy also apply to someone who is breastfeeding or has given birth within the last 12 months. A risk assessment should be carried out, with your employer taking reasonable steps to remove any risks found and offering alternative working hours or conditions.


It is possible to work as a surgeon and continue breastfeeding. Your employer is required to provide you with access to a private room where you will be able to express milk, store it and take it home. 

Working/training Less Than Full Time (LTFT)

You may want to work flexibly – if you are not a trainee, plan this with your manager well in advance.

If you are a trainee, this is arranged through the LTFT advisor at the LETB. You should talk to them as soon as you consider LTFT as an option. Many trainees request to go LTFT - typically 50-80% - with a cut in salary. Your CCT date moves and your goals are adjusted.

The deanery arranges for one of three options for a LTFT post:

  • slot share
  • supernumerary post
  • part-time in a full-time post

Points to consider about LTFT posts 

Arranging a LTFT post is not always easy or quick. Surgical trainees often find there is no-one to slot-share with, while hospitals can be reluctant to fit part-time doctors into the rota. 

Due to financial constraints , there has been reluctance to put LTFT trainees into supernumerary slots. 

The College’s position statement on Less Than Full Time Training sets out the key principles when arranging LTFT training.

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