Female doctors have urged the Hospital Authority to introduce flexible working hours to allow them to care for their families. Women Doctors' Association president Cissy Yu said more women had been studying medicine in recent years but many, especially those working in public hospitals, had trouble balancing their job and family life. While 10 years ago only one in 10 medical students were women, they now made up almost half, Dr Yu said. She urged the Hospital Authority to introduce flexible hours for women so they could work part-time and spend more time looking after their families and children. Dr Yu also called on the authority to make specialist training, which usually takes six or seven years, more flexible for women. 'The authority should allow women doctors to take a break for one or two years to give birth because the workload is so heavy that it will be harsh for them to be pregnant and take care of babies while training,' she said. 'Women doctors are committed to their job and spend a long time on medical training. The authority should be considerate of their quality of life.' Former Frontline Doctors' Union chairwoman Lisa Lau Lai-shan said many women doctors, especially mothers, complained about the long hours. 'I've heard of a woman who had to perform surgery while she was pregnant. Many women doctors, including those who are pregnant, need to work overnight on-call shifts. They don't have much time with their children,' she said. 'The authority should draw up some guidelines on setting the rosters. It should consider the special needs of women doctors, for example, cutting the on-call duties of pregnant women or those who need to take care of children.' Public Doctors' Association president Paul Shea Tat-ming supported the suggestions. He said women doctors usually had more trouble balancing their work and family life than other female professionals because of the long training and long working hours. 'When women doctors graduate from medical school, they are about 24 or 25. Yet they still have to go through specialist training for six or seven more years,' Dr Shea said. 'Heavy workloads may hinder them from dating, getting married and having babies during their best reproductive time, which is before they are 35.'