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Independents' Day

Female GPs 'to outnumber male GPs in four years'

By Steve Nowottny

Women will make up the majority of the GP workforce in just four years in a seismic shift in the gender balance of the profession, a major new report predicts

But the analysis by the Royal College of Physicians, carried out over the past two years, found women remained poorly represented in leadership positions.

Women currently make up 42% of the GP workforce, but ‘on present trends' are expected to be in the majority by 2013. The majority of the whole medical work force is predicted to be female by 2017.

And for the first time, white males are now underrepresented among applicants to medical schools. White males make up 40% of all school leavers, but in 2007 took only 27% of medical school places.

But the report found female doctors still struggled to reach the most senior leadership positions, with limited numbers on the councils of the medical royal colleges and ‘very few' serving as PEC chairs.

The findings mirror those of a Pulse investigation last September which found the number of female GPs' in leadership positions had barely changed in five years, despite the rise in female doctors.

The Royal College of Physicians' report found female doctors demonstrated ‘a far greater preference for part-time and other flexible forms of working', with implications for continuity of care. But Professor Jane Dacre, chair of report's working group, said: ‘I don't see it's a problem provided there's flexibility for the patient to choose what GP they want to see.'

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