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Growing number of women doctors “threatens efficiency of the NHS”

3 June 2009

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The increasing number of women doctors might actually threaten the efficiency of the NHS, according to a report from the Royal College of Physicians.

It says that female doctors’ preference for part-time work and specialities with set hours may lead to a shortage of doctors in some specialities and a need to recruit more overall.

Said Professor Jane Dacre, whose working group produced the report: “These changes in the medical workforce will need to be examined to ensure the continued delivery of high-quality care, and the best use of the considerable talent available in today’s medical profession.”

She points out that while 40% of all doctors, 42% of GPs and 28% of consultants at present are women, they will make up the majority of GPs by 2013 and of the medical workforce by 2017.

The report says: “Across the NHS, 43% of all women doctors are under the age of 35, so many will not yet have started families. And the proportion of women of child-bearing age will rise sharply in the next decade as the larger cohort of women medical students graduates.”

Her views are supported by Dr Brian McKinstry, writing in the British Medical Journal.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

British Medical Journal