Female GPs 'half as likely' to face complaints and sanctions

Female GPs aged 30-50 are half as likely to face complaints or receive sanctions as their male counterparts, according figures released by the GMC.

Niall Dickson: face of medicine is changing
Niall Dickson: face of medicine is changing

The figures showed women were less likely than men to be the subject of official complaints, but black and ethnic minority (BME) doctors from both genders were 50% more likely to receive sanctions than white doctors.

In 2013, the GMC received complaints for 7.7% of female doctors on the GP register, compared to 15% of males in the same age group.

Of the complaints made about female GPs, 3.6% resulted in a warning or sanction, whereas 6.4% of complaints made against male GPs resulted in a warning or sanction.

The figures show that women over 50 are almost twice as likely to receive complaints as younger women, with 14% having being complained about last year. But this figure is still lower than the equivalent figure for men, which shows that nearly one in four (23%) male GPs over 50 received a complaint in 2013.

BME doctors, who make up 39% of the UK doctor workforce, were more likely to face complaints than white doctors and 50% more likely to receive a warning or sanction as a result.

More women become GPs

The figures, released in the GMC’s The state of medical education and practice in the UK 2014 report, showed that 58% of GPs aged 30-50 are female. Comparatively, only 35% of GPs over the age of 50 are women.

Despite making up more than half of the GP workforce – a threshold crossed for the first time this year – female doctors still form a lower proportion of specialists and other doctors. Only 10% of surgeons in the UK are female, although the figures suggest that the number of women breaking into these traditionally male roles may be on the rise.

But the trend for an increasing number of female trainees may be coming to an end, as the drop in the number of medical students since 2012 was more marked for women (2.5%) than for men (1.3%). Despite the drop, more than half of medical students were female in 2013.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said the figures showed that ‘the face of medicine is changing’.

He said: ‘It is notoriously difficult to predict future demand for doctors, but we do know that the needs of patients are changing, with many more living for years with long-term conditions.

‘We know too that the next generation of professionals will have different expectations. We hope that this data from the GMC will help inform future decision making.’

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