A CONTROVERSIAL figure used by UKIP members which claimed 75 per cent of all doctors in training are female has been shown as inaccurate by the General Medical Council.

As reported in last week’s News, Nigel Pearson and Peter Heather, UKIP’s candidates for Chard North and South respectively, have distributed leaflets across the town claiming three quarters of all doctors in training are female and that this was a problem for NHS.

The official figures for the gender split of doctors in training, released last week by the General Medical Council, show that in fact 57.4 per cent of doctors in training across UK are females.

Mr Heather also said last week that “you need two female doctors for every one male doctor you would need because they are all working part-time.”

Now, he has added: “There are female doctors who work part-time who only do four hours a day. That is not my surgery, but I am saying there are some surgeries where that is the case.

“We are not being sexist. Our problem is not with female doctors. The problem the NHS has is with too many people that only work part time.”

Mr Pearson said: “There has been a substantial amount of support from people in Chard for what we are saying here.

“I have had an email of support from a single mother with two children saying that she understands what we are talking about here.”

The pair also say the controversial leaflet was sent back to UKIP who approved it before distribution. UKIP headquarters has refused to comment.

According to the GMC, at the last official count there were 59,250 doctors in training in UK, 34,015 of which were female. This means that 57.4 per cent of doctors in training are females.

Looking at just England, that percentage fell to 57.1 per cent.

Melissa Whittaker-Mather, the Labour candidate for Chard South, said: “The issues with doctors' surgeries is not that there’s too many female or part time female doctors, it’s simply that there is insufficient GP capacity.

"The UKIP view appears to be that by reducing the number of female part time doctors that it will somehow increase GP capacity which is clearly counterproductive. It is also not possible and cannot be achieved by county, nor would it be legal.

"County councillors have no influence over employment law and have no place in suggesting that years of progress that has been made towards equal rights for women in full or part time positions should be amended to fit their bias views.

"Whether a person works full or part time in any role does not mean they are not directly contributing less nor does it mean they are of a lesser value than a male counterpart or full time member of their team.

"UKIP would perhaps fair better and avoid feeling misrepresented by focusing on genuine local issues as all other candidates have and demonstrate a positive approach to our campaigns, rather than isolating groups of people, again.

Amanda Broom, Lib Dem candidate for Chard North, said: “In 2015 the General Medical Council stated that 69 per cent of those in training to be GPs were women, and that this was a cause for celebration.

"It is no surprise that this UKIP leaflet has distorted this positive statement for their own ends.

"Having spent the last two weekends with family members receiving emergency medical care at local surgeries, and subsequently Musgrove Park Hospital, we did not care if staff were full time, part time, job sharing or indeed their gender.

"The commitment and care provided was exemplary as always, and we should be praising their skills and dedication, and thanking them, not criticising them.

"Ultimately, the NHS is significantly underfunded - that is the crux of the issue.

"In this day and age, everyone has a right to choose their work pattern and it may come as a surprise to some that parental care can also be shared by either parent.

"Nearly 90 years ago Chard was famous for having the first elected female minister born in the town, Margaret Bondfield. How ironic that today we are having to discuss a sexist politic leaflet and not focusing on the skill sets of many in our hour of need."

The UKIP candidates have since added: "We note the figures supplied by the General Medical Council. There have been any number of figures put out by equally august NHS bodies.

"At the end of the day, if the patient is dying it really doesn’t matter how big the wound is that is killing her."