Increase in number of female trainees

THE number of female doctors in training increased again last year, although overall growth is slowing down, new figures show.

The proportion of female trainees has risen by just over six per cent in the past five years, from 33,000 in 2012 to 35,000 in 2017. Women now make up 58 per cent of all doctors in training, up from 57 per cent in 2015.

But there is evidence this trend is slowing down, with a nine per cent overall reduction in the number of female trainees under 30 between 2012 and 2017. One possible explanation is that more female doctors are taking career breaks and are taking longer to complete their training.

The figures were revealed in the General Medical Council’s report The state of medical education and practice in the UK: 2017.

It also noted that, over the same five-year period, the number of male doctors in training fell by almost four per cent from 26,758 to 25,762.

Elsewhere, there was an increase in the proportion of women in surgical training between 2012 and 2017, from 24 per cent to 32 per cent. But it remains the training programme with the lowest proportion of females.

Women continue to dominate obstetrics and gynaecology (81 per cent), paediatrics and child health (77 per cent) and public health (73 per cent). In sexual and reproductive health – one of the smallest specialties – 27 of the 29 trainees are women.

In terms of trainee numbers, intensive care medicine saw the biggest five-year rise, from 60 to 192 (220 per cent), while emergency medicine also jumped from 664 to 1,438 (117 per cent). The biggest drop was in core training numbers which fell eight per cent from 8,805 to 8,089.