Junior doctors and their supporters picket outside Sandwell General Hospital in West Bromwich on Tuesday
Junior doctors and their supporters picket outside Sandwell General Hospital in West Bromwich on Tuesday

Junior doctors hit out at column blaming the 'feminisation' of NHS for causing out-of-hours crisis

Hundreds of female and male doctors criticised Dominic Lawson's column in the Sunday Times saying women were too obsessed with their families to work long hours

Caroline Mortimer
Monday 18 January 2016 20:50

Hundreds of junior doctors have reacted with outrage on social media to a Sunday Times column which suggests that the current crisis is partly down to the “feminisation" of the NHS.

Commenting on last week’s junior doctors strike over pay and hours, journalist Dominic Lawson wrote that the profession had been changed irrevocably by more women entering it.

Junior doctors say the planned reclassification of what is deemed “anti-social” hours from 7.30pm onwards to 10.30pm onwards will lead to a reduction in their pay and them to being expected to work a dangerous number of hours.

But Mr Lawson argues female doctors who put having children first and refuse to work long hours are costing the NHS more than their male counterparts.

Quoting one of the authors of a report the future of the health service in 2008, Dr Brian McKinstry, he said more fewer women than men will work out-of-hours which means there are few GPs offering this service across the country.

As a result Mr Lawson concludes “the consequence has been an increasing pile-up in the accident and emergency wards of our hospitals”.

He said: “When you consider that it costs roughly £500,000 to bring each medical student up to the status of a fully trained professional, it becomes obvious why governments have been reluctant, especially at a time of vast public sector deficits, to increase the number of medical degrees to fill staffing shortfalls created by the swelling number of 'part-time' female doctors.

Quoting Spectator journalist Dr Max Pemberton he said "women work 25 per cent less than their male counterparts".

But Twitter users poured scorn on Mr Lawson's comments, tweeting that their ovaries get in the way of their daily routines and that they liked to have manicures mid-way through surgery and couldn't work without their pink trainers.

One junior doctor from Co. Durham, Dr Emma Wilson, wrote a Facebook post saying though she had previously found the “vilification of [her] profession” amusing she did not like being “called out for the audacity of possessing functional ovaries”.

In The Times this morning. Frankly a disgraceful and poisonous article suggesting that shortcomings in the NHS are...

Posted by Emma Helen Wilson on Sunday, January 17, 2016

She wrote: “I'm so sorry Mr Lawson I forgot that it is the 1940's and I should be in the kitchen making you a sandwich not working my ass off for 12 hours at a time in a busy A&E department.

“What would you rather I do with my life Mr Lawson? Should I have finished my education at 16 and cracked on with the baby-making? Or should I have chosen a more 'family friendly' career pathway?”.

Junior doctors walked out on strike on Tuesday - withdrawing all but emergency care - after talks between the British Medical Association (BMA) and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt broke down.

A second strike where all care is withdrawn has been planned for February.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments