Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will not succeed unless they do more to involve women in senior roles, GP leaders have warned.
Suffolk GP Dr Penny Newman, a member of the NHS Midlands and East commissioning development team, wrote in a recent report that 'CCGs are male dominated with a few exceptions'.
In the report, Releasing potential: women doctors and clinical leadership, Dr Newman highlighted the lack of female leaders in CCGs. 'The NHS reforms won't succeed if you don't get women involved,' she told GP.
Dr Newman argued that female GPs were better placed to consider the needs of female patients - helping CCGs commission for whole populations.
Many female GPs have the skills for commissioning, but fear they will not win board elections, she said, because they fear current NHS groups are often male-led, and people may vote for people they know.
Dr Newman said: 'In the future, elections need to be more sophisticated to combine competence with popularity. At the moment they may be unattractive to women.'
Mid-Essex CCG chairwoman Dr Lisa Harrod-Rothwell said she initially felt unlikely to win an election because of her gender. 'The perception wasn't borne out in reality. But it would have stopped me from standing for election if I didn't have people pushing me.'
Despite her own success, she said it was still very difficult for female GPs, and especially sessional GPs, to get involved.
- GP magazine is a media partner for Commissioning 2012, an event in London on 27-28 June featuring over 700 GPs and primary care managers. Speakers are expected to include health secretary Andrew Lansley and NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson.