§ 2. Mr. Hargreaves
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many family doctors (a) in 1979 and (b) currently are women.
§ The Secretary of State for Health (Mrs. Virginia Bottomley)
At 1 October 1979, there were 3,261 women general medical practitioners; the number had risen to 6,430 at 1 October 1991. This represents an increase of 97.2 per cent.
§ Mr. Hargreaves
Does my right hon. Friend believe that those figures suggest an answer to those general practitioners who were concerned that changes to their funding arrangements would inevitably lead to a reduction in the number of female general practitioners?
§ Mrs. Bottomley
It certainly is a clear answer. The general practitioner contract made it clear for the first time that there could be part-time general practitioners, which was a help for women. We improved the locum arrangements for those wanting to go on maternity leave. There has been a substantial increase in the number of women GPs and we want to see the same increase in the number of women consultants. In our targets for the Opportunity 2000 programme we make it clear that we are determined to see progress for nurses, women doctors and members of health authorities and trusts. We want to see the development of women's careers throughout the service.