Ministers set out benefits of flexible working

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The Independent Online

Doctors' and dentists' surgeries should stay open in the evenings and at weekends to fit in with the busy schedules of working parents, the Government said yesterday.

Doctors' and dentists' surgeries should stay open in the evenings and at weekends to fit in with the busy schedules of working parents, the Government said yesterday.

As part of its campaign to improve the lives of British workers, ministers are looking at how public services could adopt flexible hours so that people can have access to them outside the normal 9 to 5 working day.

Previous research has shown that many people delay visiting the doctor or dentist because they find it impossible to get there within the limited opening hours. Men in particular are at risk of long-term health problems as a result.

Baroness Jay of Paddington, whose responsibilities include women's issues, said: "We want to make sure public services lead the way in providing these convenient services for working parents and their families. We have already started gathering examples of good practice across the country and will build on this."

After yesterday's launch of the private sector's Employers for Work Life Balance campaign, which will introduce and spread flexible working patterns that benefit both business and staff in businesses across Britain, ministers want to make sure that the public sector does not fall behind.

Lady Jay will look at how government, family doctors and dentists, council offices, schools and the Inland Revenue can adopt flexible workingpatterns to benefit staff and the public. The Employment minister Margaret Hodge said the health and education services were top priorities for the campaign. "I have already spoken to Estelle Morris, the Schools minister, about going into a secondary school and seeing if teachers could work in different ways."

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