Women 'under-represented on GPC', LMCs warn

LMCs have called for an investigation into why women are 'underrepresented in both membership and leadership roles on the GPC'.

More than 19 GPs lined up to speak on motions calling for an investigation into ways of making the GPC 'fully representative of the profession as a whole', at the UK LMCs conference in central London.

First-time speaker Dr Kath Markus of Derby and Derbyshire LMC, who put forward the motion said that the GPC appeared to be a 'gentlemen's club'.

'We need an investigation to understand what the barriers to progress are,' she said. 'Some of you will no doubt be thinking that there are equal opportunities for men and women to become involved.

'There are laudable encouragements with offers of childcare and so on. But it isn't working. Some of you therefore assume that we are just not interested. You are mistaken.

'It is time to look at a fresh approach at recruitment. We need to get the message out in better ways.'

Another first-time speaker, Dr Sally Johnson from Hampshire and Isle of Wight LMC, said that the lack of women was a problem and called for on the BMA and GPC to redouble their efforts to address the issue.

'It just doesn't make sense for a significant proportion of our members to be sidelined,' she said. 'There is a problem. The statistics are compelling. The reasons multi-factorial.

'We are asking that the GPC and BMA redouble their efforts with a view to sensible improvements.

'This does not need to be divisive. Lets fight the enemy together.'

The GPC's Dr Rob Barnett backed the motion and said the committee was trying to address the issue.

'The GPC's representational sub-committee is already looking into how to actually make the GPC membership more diverse,' he said.

'We are contributing to the BMA's work on women in leadership roles, which is being led by the BMA's equality and diversity committee.'

Last year a total of 46% of GPs were women, but just 21% of GPC members and 24% of UK BMA council members were women. At the RCGP, 31% of council members last year were women.

The GPC has been led by an all-male negotiating team since Dr Beth McCarron-Nash lost her seat last July. Shortly afterwards, Dr Fay Wilson lost out in her bid to become deputy chairwoman of the BMA council.

Earlier this month Dr McCarron-Nash told GP that she will stand in elections this summer in a bid to reclaim the post she lost last year.

* Watch a video interview with Dr McCarron-Nash at this year's conference.

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