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Let’s keep the gender split equal in general practice

Yet another survey was published recently which highlights the growing feminisation of the workforce – there are for the first time more female GPs than male in the NHS.

And as usual, there are emotive and reactionary responses on both sides. There are the claims that men are better GPs because they work more sessions and have more ‘balls’. The counter-argument is that women are the superior GPs because they have better communication skills and more empathy. In addition, there are the practical issues of restricted choice of doctor for men consulting for ‘male’ issues.

Call me shallow, but if general practice became a female-dominated profession the thing I would miss the most would be the banter with the opposite sex. My point is, I have always loved working with men. I attended an all girls’ school so an entire new world was opened up to me when I left home to go to university.

Back in the early days of working as a surgical house officer, there was the healthy teasing from the all-male team who thought it was rather quaint that I wanted to be a psychiatrist. The banter was definitely politically incorrect, yet I took no offence to any of it, and found it a respite from the gruelling hours and a ward full of potential amputees.

Throughout my hospital training, I have worked closely with both men and women. My female colleagues have been my soulmates and many have remained my closest friends. But the men are the ones who gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Their sense of humour uplifted my spirit and kept me going. 

Luckily, I work in a large practice and we still have a few GPs possessing a Y chromosome. Yet there are many practices which are now all-female. I wonder how different their interactions are? We used to be four male and four female partners but now we are two male and five female. Even this slight adjustment to the male/female ratio has changed the dynamic within partnership meetings, as well as socially.

Men have always enriched my working life and I would have no desire to work another twenty years in an all-female environment.

Maybe if positive discrimination is not allowed, we should be changing the hoops for medical school applicants and start testing prospective students on Temple Doom or flight simulation. If my seven-year-old son is anything to go by, men would breeze into medical school and easily outnumber the women.

Dr Shaba Nabi is a GP trainer in Bristol.