It’s probably sexist to even think about this

Indeed, in this age group, 61 per cent of doctors are now women and 39 per cent men.
In the age group 30 to 50 years, over the same period, the number of female doctors increased by 24 per cent compared with 2 per cent for males. In this age group, men still outnumber women by 54 per cent to 46 per cent — but that ratio will soon reverse.

I fear this gender imbalance is already having a negative effect on the NHS.

The reason is that most female doctors end up working part-time — usually in general practice — and then retire early.

As a result, it is necessary to train two female doctors so they can cover the same amount of work as one full-time colleague.

Given that the cost of training a doctor is at least £500,000, are taxpayers getting the best return on their investment?

There is another important issue. Women in hospital medicine tend to avoid the more demanding specialities which require greater commitment, have more antisocial working hours and include responsibility for management.

Interesting problem, isn’t it?

23 comments on “It’s probably sexist to even think about this

  1. “Women in hospital medicine tend to avoid the more demanding specialities which require greater commitment, have more antisocial working hours and include responsibility for management.”

    Hmmm, really? Isn’t that supposed to be a woman’s strong point?

  2. Interesting problem, isn’t it?

    Not really. Make them pay back their loans. Charge them the full cost of their education.

    Then if they want to go on half time and play tennis while their husband puts in unsocial hours learning to be a brain surgeon, he can pay off her loan. So the sex better be good.

    Win-win really.

  3. SMFS

    I approve the sentiment, which doesn’t exactly make either of us a feminist, but it won’t work.

    These are the women we want to procreate, right? Well, they won’t be doing that so much much if they’re working demanding jobs with long hours. And they won’t marry down and have a house-husband take over parenting from them – funny enough the right to marry down has never been a central feminist demand. So, we either accept this unequal funding arrangement for training – and Harriet Harman screeching away about the gender pay gap – or we go for clever women not having kids and their chav sisters having them all.

    P.S. My wife tells me I’m bloody useless with women.

  4. Aren’t we dealing with this problem by recruiting doctors trained overseas.

    So the taxpayers of Australia or Holland or Poland are spending 500k on training up doctors only for them to come and work in the UK.

  5. Shinsei1967

    And nurses from Botswana.

    This is the free movement of labour and its result: a shortage of trained nurses in some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Richard Murphy approves of the free movement of labour, so presumably he approves of this outcome.

  6. We could also save the NHS money by paying doctors the same as truck drivers. They did that in the old Soviet Union and there was no shortage of doctors. And there probably wouldn’t be a shortage here: people are falling over themselves to train as doctors.

  7. @”Ralph Musgrave
    January 2, 2014 at 10:52 am

    We could also save the NHS money by paying doctors the same as truck drivers. They did that in the old Soviet Union and there was no shortage of doctors. And there probably wouldn’t be a shortage here: people are falling over themselves to train as doctors.

    I doubt people would still train to be drivers in that situation.
    Possibly in the Soviet Union people wanted to be doctors in case they managed to escape from the USSR.

  8. Just to air my non-PC credentials 🙂

    These are the women we want to procreate, right?

    Do “we”? In eugenic terms there seems to be little evidence that female competence at male roles has much of a part to play. Eugenically we should be pairing off successful/intelligent males with females who are young, good looking and prepared to stay home and parent a reasonably sized brood. There doesn’t seem to be any eugenic benefit to breeding already elite class females late in life; indeed it has been suggested that this is a cause of the rise in autistic spectrum offspring we hear so much about.

  9. IanB

    OK, forget the Eugenics. I personally got sick of shagging chavs I’d met in bars. I got more sick of having to talk to them, but sick as well of the actual act. So I personally want the clever ones to breed.

    Back to Eugenics: you realise of course it is absolutely imperative that I personally breed a lot don’t you!

  10. Ironman-

    It’s all opinion on that really. I concluded that classy totty is often lacking in the fun department. In purely eugenic terms anyway, we’d probably be best off breeding the smart blokes with brood mares from the petit bourgeois and upper prole classes, and have the clever birds just concentrate on their careers.

  11. The answer is simple. If we don’t have enough doctors, we must arrange to have fewer patients. Start by excluding feminists, since they did so much to bring the problem about. Just ti get going, exclude first employees and running dogs of the Beeb and the Tox-dadger.

  12. I suppose one could write a similar article proclaiming that the preponderance of men in surgery suggests that male doctors prefer to avoid talking to patients, and we need more women doctors to ensure good communication. One might also note that male doctors are three times as likely as female doctors to receive a complaint which merits a sanction or warning from the GMC.

    Are there any actual data for lifetime working hours for male doctors compared with female doctors? From personal observation, I’d say that Prof Thomas’s implied 2:1 ratio is a wild overestimate.

  13. If there’s an argument for positive discrimination it is the growing gender imbalance of medics. Even then I suspect this is not as easy as culling the medical schools of nice middle-class girls in preference for people that want to work for a living – i.e. achieving a decent return for the taxpayer. This is the price, albeit a high price, we pay to promote equality of opportunity. It is difficult to legislate against those that squander the opportunity. Depriving third-world communities of medical support in order to make up the shortfall only complicates the situation.

  14. This is easy to solve, if it costs 500k to go to medical school – every medic gets a 500k (or whatever) debt. With an interest rate holiday and some smallish percentage rebate for every year spent working in the NHS. It’s a ludicrous state of affairs that we are paying hundreds of thousands of pounds to train people we are then going to pay more than a 75k a year to. If they don’t like it, there is a oversupply of people who want to be medics.

    Alex

  15. If they don’t like it, there is a oversupply of people who want to be medics.

    Wanting to be a medic doesn’t mean they’ll be competent. We want good well educated people to become doctors and we need to pay them a wage that makes it competitive with jobs that require similar educated people.

    Unless you want a chav from the job center doing your next partition?

  16. So balance it, make the debt smaller, make the number of years to repay the debt shorter! Just make sure that people have a bit more skin in the game, as it’s apparent at the moment that some of them don’t have enough.

    And it’d be a chav from the job center with 7 years practice. I think you’d have to make things pretty bad before things were that bad.

    Alex

  17. Hasn’t being a doctor been rather dumbed down.
    The surgeons spend less time getting to be consultants. And back in the fiftiies you did two years anatomy and physiology etc before even sighting a sick patient.
    24 hour call was commonplace and home calls routine.

  18. Ironman – “These are the women we want to procreate, right? Well, they won’t be doing that so much much if they’re working demanding jobs with long hours. And they won’t marry down and have a house-husband take over parenting from them – funny enough the right to marry down has never been a central feminist demand.”

    There has been a bit of marrying down going on though. If I ever need to raise a smile I think of the formerly angry and bitter Susan Faludi who took up with a buffed young (male) construction worker and then wrote a book about how tough it is for men these days. Some times it really does seem all it takes is a good man. But anyway ….

    (I think I am leading in the non-feminist stakes here)

    Surely the sensible solution is to ban women from being doctors. Or just making it very hard. The more education we give women, the fewer children they have. So from a eugenics point of view, we should give very little education to those who can benefit from it, and lots to those who can’t. Or at least very little for everyone. Cheaper.

    Failing that, we should charge students the full amount from about the time they take O Levels and make it clear to parents that if they want grand-children they need to call enough at some point before their little angel gets a useless degree in Art History or Aromatherapy or whatever.

    SimonFa – “Wanting to be a medic doesn’t mean they’ll be competent. We want good well educated people to become doctors and we need to pay them a wage that makes it competitive with jobs that require similar educated people.”

    Do we want well educated people to become doctors? The medical profession is suffering the same problem fighter pilots do. No one knows much what makes a good fighter pilot, or doctor, and so they have tried to raise the social class of the group by insisting on applicants having a good class background. Usually with education as a proxy for class. Does it follow that doing well in your A Levels means you will be a good doctor? Let me put this way, becoming a doctor does not require any test of 1. liking for people or 2. manual dexterity.

    Myself, I would think at least one of those was useful.

    john malpas – “Hasn’t being a doctor been rather dumbed down.”

    Yes and in two ways. One is medical technology. When people of my Grandfather’s generation, or even my Father’s come to that, became doctors, they did everything. They would deliver babies, perform minor surgery, even quite major ones sometimes, set broken bones and so on. Now those people all get in an ambulance and are taken to a bigger hospital. Technology means that GPs mostly give people antibiotics and if it does not clear up, send them on to a specialist. It is routine work that any factory worker could do. The other way is more girls are becoming doctors and they object to the tough training. So actually cutting up bodies is on the way out. I know of no medical school that has not tried to ban medical students playing silly buggers with the corpses in that well tried medical school manner. The female students do not like it. The hours are down. We have a more feminised student body and so they are demanding a more feminised curriculum.

  19. As a medic imported from your earstwhile empire to keep the voters sweet, I discovered your UK educated doctors all have an enormous sense of entitlement about “quality of life” which I at first found quaint, having worked every hour of the day for a pittance as a junior doctor in the homeland. They are further burdened by having only experienced the NHS and BBC propaganda about the horrors of paying for medical care if you are unfortunate to live elsewhere. They are utterly incapable of imagining a different system where perhaps your success depended on convincing your patients of your skill and devotion, rather than consultants and administrators of your loyalty to the system. Btw on women in medicine, it’s the quality of the support network that gets you through the more demanding specialisations, wives definitely help by doing the day to day chores, which single men and straight women candidates have to do for themselves. I was also astonished by a female family practice lecturer who felt all GPs needed more time off for courses, utterly blurring the lines between bureaucrats employed by the state with professionals exercising and updating their skills. If you want to be a professional acting like one is a good start. (Rant over )

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