The Deputy will be aware that the report of the Forum on Medical Manpower, published in April of this year, deals extensively with the issue of gender balance in medical staffing. There has been some improvement recently on the figures outlined by the Deputy. Published figures from the Postgraduate Medical and Dental Board and Comhairle na nOspidéal indicate that as of January 2001, women made up 37% of junior doctors, 21% of consultants and 4%, up from 2%, of consultant surgeons; a significant improvement on the figures noted by the Deputy. Representation of women doctors is growing at all levels in the majority of medical specialties.
It is important, however, to ensure that women have available to them career prospects equal to those available to men and to this end, the forthcoming National Task Force on Medical Manpower will,inter alia, prepare detailed proposals to address gender imbalances in the hospital medical staffing system. The task force will also be examining the number of places in medical colleges and the system of hospital medical education and training with the aim of providing high quality postgraduate training and career opportunities for all medical staff – male and female.