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NHS Employers chief slams claims women are ‘negative’ for NHS

7 January 2013

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NHS Employers chief executive Dean Royles has harshly criticised claims that the feminisation of the medical workplace are having a negative effect on the NHS. 

Writing in the Daily Mail last week, Royal Marsden senior surgeon Professor J Meirion Thomas claimed that female doctors “end up working part-time, usually in general practice and then retire early.” 

According to Professor Thomas, this means the NHS is forced to train two female doctors so that they can cover the same amount of work as one full-time colleague. 

He said: “Given that the cost of training a doctor is at least £500,000, are taxpayers getting the best return on their investment?” 

The article went on to say: “For my part, I believe medical school places should be given to those most likely to repay their debt to society.” 

Currently, women make up 66% of the part-time medical workforce, tending to work more hours than part-time men. 

NHS Employers estimates based on 2012 staff numbers show that only 5% of women work less than 20 hours per week, while 83% of women work 30 or more hours. 

Men work an average of 38 hours per week, while women work an average of 36 hours, the figures show. 

Writing in HR magazine, NHS Employers chief executive Dean Royles said: “We know that when we improve diversity, when we get better gender balance, we get better service and results. That presupposition about women needing to change to fit in or contribute should be the scandal!

It is also unfair to assume family-friendly policies are a women’s issue. We should be asking how, as a society, do we ensure more men are able to spend time with their families, rather than burdening women with the, often forced, choices.” 

He went on to write: “Now I’m no medic, so apologies if I have this wrong (I didn’t do very well at A level), but as far as I’m aware, only women are biologically able to conceive and bare children? I don’t think I will ever be able to repay the debt I owe the mother of my children for the sacrifice she has made, for the time she has had to take out to care for them, nor do I believe it is a debt we as a society can even begin to quantify. But, I do know that it is right to ensure we support employment practices that allow people to flourish and contribute to our society.”