Health service staff overwhelmingly want flexible hours to cope with family responsibilities, according to a survey to be published later this month.

The survey by Pay and Workforce Research found flexi-time and flexible hours were wanted by almost a third of a sample of staff interviewed, while less than 5 per cent wanted work-place creches, job sharing or special leave.

A lack of flexible working practices may be driving a wedge between working parents and their childless colleagues.

PWR consultant Cheryl Kershaw told a seminar in Newcastle last week that staff without children felt they were treated unfairly compared with parents.

Lack of flexible working policies often meant that staff having a second child took a break from the NHS for up to five years, said Ms Kershaw.

See news focus, page 14.