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Female doctor comments clarified

Health minister Anna Soubry has been forced to explain herself after appearing to agree with comments about the "burden" that female doctors could put on the NHS.

Tory MP Anne McIntosh said that training female doctors who will go on to have children and work part-time puts a "tremendous burden" on the health service.

Ms Soubry appeared to accept her point about the "unintended consequences" of the number of women who are training to be doctors.

But she was later forced to clarify her comments, saying that she "fully supports" female GPs and that her comments were "not intended to be derogatory".

During a Westminster Hall debate, Miss McIntosh said: "It's a controversial thing to say, but perhaps I as a woman can say this - 70% of medical students currently are women and they are very well-educated and very well-qualified.

"When they go into practice and then in the normal course of events will marry and have children, they often want to go part-time and it is obviously a tremendous burden training what effectively might be two GPs working part-time where they are ladies.

"I think that is something that is going to put a huge burden on the health service."

Ms Soubry replied: ''Could I just say very quickly you make a very important point when you talk about, rightly, the good number of women who are training to be doctors but the unintended consequences.''

But she later issued a statement saying: "I fully support women GPs, my comments were not intended to be derogatory and I was responding to a point made by another MP during the debate.

"As the head of the RCGP (Royal College of General Practitioners) also recently pointed out - some female GPs work part-time due to families. The solution is that we need to increase the number of GPs and we are doing that. This Government supports good working practices such as flexible working, job sharing and part-time working which help retain female doctors."

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