Female GP numbers catching up with male numbers

3 Apr 2014

In England, female GPs now outnumber male GPs for the first time. According to a general practice census conducted each year by the Health and Social Care Information Centre in the UK, the number of female GPs has grown by more than 50 per cent over the last decade to 20,435, compared with the current number of 19,801 male GPs. 

The situation in Australia is similar, with the number of female doctors increasing at a greater rate than the number of male doctors. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, historically there have always been many more male than female doctors. In 1986, a quarter of GPs and less than one in six specialists were women. While male doctors continue to outnumber their female counterparts, the difference now is far less pronounced. In 2011, 43 per cent of GPs and around one third of specialists were women. It is likely that the number of female GPs will soon equal or outnumber the number of male GPs in Australia. According to the sixteenth report of the Medical Training Review Panel, in 2012 females comprised 55 per cent of domestic and 51.6 per cent of international graduates. This proportion has varied little over the last three years, with females representing 53.6 per cent and 54.1 per cent of all medical graduates in 2010 and 2009 respectively. 

The UK report also showed a decrease in the total number of practices in England with an increase in the number of patients per practice. This trend towards fewer, larger GP practices is also occurring in Australia. Data from the Primary Health Care Research and Information Service shows that the number of general practices in Australia fell from 8309 in 2000-01 to 7035 in 2010-11, while the number of practices with 6 or more GPs rose from 1194 in 2000-01 to 1504 in 2010-11.