To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps he intends to take to ensure that women have the right to consult a woman doctor.
[holding answer 3 December 1987]: We accept that many women prefer to have access to female medical staff, particularly for the treatment of gynaecological conditions. Everyone has a right to seek to register with the family doctor of her choice. The Department has issued guidance asking general practitioners, where possible, to refer female patients to a female consultant if they so wish. Women general practitioners and consultants are not always available, but the fact that almost half those now entering medical schools are female should mean an increasing number of women doctors in the National Health Service in future. Because of the length of training, however, it will be some years before parity is reached.In the meantime, the Department is taking several measures to help women doctors who have children to continue their careers. In addition in the recent White Paper, "Promoting Better Health" (Cm. 249) the Government announced that they would discuss with the professions what arrangements might be made to ensure that more women are encouraged to enter and remain in general practice.