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Email to help working mothers

December 10, 2001 

Working mothers should be able to contact teachers and public health officials by email, without having to discuss minor concerns in person, a government-commissioned report has proposed.

The study, conducted by the Women and Equality Unit, recommends that the Internet could be used to improve access to Britain's health and education services. The two thousand women who were consulted in the report claim that public services do not take account of the fact the many women in Britain work.

"The report flags up these issues directly to women," said a spokeswoman at the Cabinet Office. The Better Services, Better Working Lives was officially handed over the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Department of Health (DoH) on Monday morning, and the recommendations will now be considered by the relevant authority.

Over three quarters of NHS staff and two thirds of teachers are women, but the provision of health and education services is still designed around the model of women staying at home with their children. The study targeted women aged 25 to 45.

"Women are an important barometer of how well we are delivering to everyone," said Barbara Roche, minister for women. "They are the biggest users of health and education services and are well places to tell us what we need to do."

Under the new proposal, working mothers would be able to raise a concern or problem with their children's teachers by email. The convenience of email would enable women to maintain contact with education authorities, without having to sacrifice work commitments during school hours.

The report also recommends that email could be used by patients to request repeat prescriptions, without having to visit the surgery in person.

by Wendy McAuliffe. Copyright © 2001 ZD Inc.

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