Minister Anna Soubry backtracks on women GPs 'burden'

Female doctor
Image caption Are women a "burden" on the NHS?

There are "unintended consequences" for the NHS of training and employing women as GPs, Health Minister Anna Soubry has said in Parliament.

She was responding to a question about the "burden" of female doctors marrying and starting families.

The head of the Royal College of GPs said it was wrong to blame women doctors for problems in the NHS.

Ms Soubry later said her comments were not meant to be "derogatory" and the answer was to hire more GPs.

During a debate in Westminster Hall, Conservative MP Anne McIntosh, said: "It's a controversial thing to say, but perhaps I as a woman can say this - 70% of medical students currently are women and they are very well educated and very well qualified.

"When they go into practice and then in the normal course of events will marry and have children, they often want to go part-time and it is obviously a tremendous burden training what effectively might be two GPs working part-time where they are ladies.

"And I think that is something that is going to put a huge burden on the health service."

In response, Ms Soubry said: "You make a very important point when you talk about, rightly, the good number of women who are training to be doctors, but the unintended consequences."

Dr Clare Gerada, the chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, took to Twitter to say: "I cannot believe that women doctors are being blamed for problems in NHS."

In a statement later, Anna Soubry clarified her remarks saying she had "not intended to be derogatory" and was responding to a point made by another MP during the debate.

"The solution is that we need to increase the number of GPs and we are doing that.

"This government supports good working practices such as flexible working, job-sharing and part-time working which help retain female doctors."

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