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Female GPs dominate the profession for the first time according to new GMC report

Press Release

17 Nov 2015

In a few years’ time women doctors will out number male colleagues – already there are more practising women GPs under 40 than men, according to the General Medical Council’s The state of medical education and practice in the UK report 2015.

The fact that medicine is becoming a more balanced workforce with women moving into all branches of the profession should be a cause of celebration.

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council

Overall, more than half licensed GPs are now women but the younger age groups have a higher percentage:

  • 63% of GPs under 40,
  • 56% of GPs aged 40-49 and;
  • 37% of GPs aged 50 and older.

This trend is set to increase given that 69% of GPs in training are women. Among doctors in training in some specialties, men still predominate – for example in surgery 71% of doctors in training are men, ophthalmology where the figure is 55% and radiology where it is 51%.

The report also shows that number of black and minority ethnic GPs increased by 22% between 2010 and 2014. Overall, the number of doctors on the GP register has increased by 4% between 2010 and 2014.

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, said: “The fact that medicine is becoming a more balanced workforce with women moving into all branches of the profession should be a cause of celebration. For a host of reasons having a diverse workforce which reflects the UK’s population must be the goal.

“We do however need to be honest and admit that employers have struggled to cope with doctors as they juggle the demands of their career and personal responsibilities.’

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Women in medicine make a huge contribution to the NHS at all levels and I’m immensely proud that general practice is leading the way in terms of gender equality. This is one area where our health service is streets ahead of the corporate world and ultimately it is our patients who will benefit from a diverse workforce.

"It is encouraging to know that our profession is seen as a stimulating and progressive career option for both women and men. But we desperately need more GPs – of any gender – to meet the demands of our growing and ageing population.

“We all need to work together to ‘recruit retain and return’ at least 5000 more GPs over the course of this parliament so that we can deliver the care our patients need and deserve.”

Notes to editors:

The state of medical education and practice in the UK report 2015 is based on data for 2014 to provide a picture of the medical profession in the UK.

It can be downloaded here.

It shows that 50.4 % of licensed GPs are women.

The General Medical Council (GMC) is an independent organisation that helps to protect patients and improve medical education and practice across the UK.

  • We decide which doctors are qualified to work here and we oversee UK medical education and training.
  • We set the standards that doctors need to follow, and make sure that they continue to meet these standards throughout their careers.
  • We take action when we believe a doctor may be putting the safety of patients, or the public’s confidence in doctors, at risk.

We are not here to protect doctors – their interests are protected by others. Our job is to protect the public.

We are independent of government and the medical profession and accountable to Parliament. Our powers are given to us by Parliament through the Medical Act 1983.

We are a registered charity (number 1089278 with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, and number SC037750 with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator), we have to show that our aims are for public benefit.

The GMC Media Relations Office can be contacted on 020 7189 5454, email press@gmc-uk.org.

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