70% of GPs forecast to be female

General practice is on track to become 70% female, according to national director for health and work Dame Carol Black.

Dame Carol: women doctors will have to make ‘a business case’ for part-time work
Dame Carol: women doctors will have to make ‘a business case’ for part-time work

Most GPs will be women by 2013, a two-year study by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) found earlier this year.

Now the former RCP president, who caused a furore in 2004 when she said too many women doctors would undermine the profession's status, has gone further.

‘It seems to me we are likely to have 70% of women in our GP workforce in general practice, if not more,' Dame Carol told a Medical Women's Federation meeting in London (MWF) this month.

But ‘detailed thinking' will be needed for part-time female GPs. NHS savings of £20bn will ‘hit us hard by 2011', Dame Carol said.

Part-time work is expensive and ‘there will be core constraints on affordability', she explained.

‘If we work part-time, it is more expensive. There's a lower lifetime return on initial training and investment and more organisational complexity and overhead costs.'

Dame Carol said women doctors will have to make ‘a business case' for part-time work.

But she insisted that part-time staff are no less professional or committed: ‘It's absolutely essential that we stop any idea that working part-time means you are not delivering a professional service,' she said. ‘It's important that women have the widest reasonable choice of work options.'

48% of female GPs work part-time, the RCP study showed.



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