CHARD South's UKIP candidate has stood by controversial claims that the high percentage of female doctors in training is causing problems for the NHS.

Peter Heather has today defended his comments, published in his campaign leaflet, by adding that because they are part time, two female doctors are needed to do the same work as one male doctor.

Mr Heather is set to represent the UK Indepedence Party at the county council elections on May 4 and together with Chard North's candidate Nigel Pearson has been distributing the controversial leaflets this week.

The passage which has caused uproar among rival politicians says: "Positive discrimination in favour of women has resulted in 75 per cent of all doctors in training being women.

"Women take career breaks to have a family and tend to only work part-time when they return to the surgery. How many female doctors are there in your surgery working two or three days a week?

"Do we need female doctors? Of course we do, but not so many that they create the sorts of problems the NHS is facing now.

"Here in Somerset, GPs surgeries will soon start to close as an increasing number of GPs retire, leaving thousands of patients without a doctor."

Chard & Ilminster News:

An extract from the leaflet. Credit Buzzfeed

Mr Heather has since defended the leaflet.

He said: "That figure has been commented on before about two years ago by a lady in a big article in one of the national newspapers.

"It is a problem as far as I am concerned and Nigel Pearson wrote the leaflet with me so he agrees.

"If you look at my doctors surgery, for example, there are more female doctors than male doctors. There is only one male doctor I think."

Mr Heather also claims that part-time female doctors only work four hours a day.

He added: "You need two female doctors for every one male doctor you would need because they are all working part-time. We need to train more male doctors.

"The leaflet has gone back to the party and they fully support it."

In an article published on The Daily Telegraph in August 2015, a spokesman for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said that around 75 per cent of doctors in paediatric training programme are female.

Melissa Whittaker-Mather, Labour candidate for Chard South, has slammed the controversial UKIP leaflet.

She said: “I have been contacted by a number of women telling me that they are disgusted with this leaflet.

"In it UKIP claim that 'positive discrimination' has led to 75 per cent of doctors in training being women. A quick fact check revealed that this is simply incorrect.

"The NHS employers organisation says that the true figure is currently 53 per cent, so just a little over half of trainee doctors are women.

 “The UKIP leaflet also asks 'do we need women doctors?' This is an attack on the work of local women GPs working in our surgeries in Chard.

"Many women would feel more comfortable with a woman GP, and that’s across the whole spectrum of medical issues.

"It’s saddening in this day and age that anyone would imply that women doctors are somehow second class. This is a reckless expression of old-fashioned prejudice.

"The answer to the question do we need more women doctors is a resounding yes, and Chard would suffer without them.

"In Chard there are 17 doctors in three surgeries, and of these nine are women. I doubt any of their patients would prefer they weren’t there.”

Chard & Ilminster News:

Melissa Whittaker-Mather, labour candidate for Chard South

Cllr Amanda Broom, who is standing for the Liberal Democrats in Chard North, said: "I have seen their leaflet. It is the usual divisive regurgitated nonsense which has simply encouraged me to work harder to represent the residents of Chard North.

"Each party's policies are reflected in their literature and their manifesto. My canvassing and campaigning is focussing on the actual positive work I am undertaking as a current district councillor, and the work I will undertake if elected as a county councillor."

Martin Wale, Conservative candidate for Chard North, said: "I am always annoyed at election times when candidates come out with wildly inaccurate statements to try and gain some advantage with the electorate.

"The claim by UKIP is probably one of the wildest and inaccurate for many years but by no means the only one we have heard.

"I hope that the people of Chard see this for what it is - inaccurate and very insulting to the hard working doctors in our NHS and the patients who prefer to see a female doctor."

Cllr Dave Bulmer, Independent candidate for Chard South and mayor fo Chard, said: "I find the comments from the local UKIP candidates absolutely appalling, making crass, ill thought out and selective statements in election propaganda contributes nothing to any constructive debate or campaign.

"In addition to this clearly these candidates seem to have a total disregard for the equalities act. They seem to have a total disregard for any working person's right to a private life and how that works with each individual career.  

"It would appear the UKIP candidates blatant objective is to put fear in the electorate which I also find unacceptable.

"If it is their perception that a problem exists to the extent stated in their propaganda they should seek constructive solutions by engaging with professionals working within the NHS and the health secretary at the heart of central Government. 

"Only this last week I have had experience of how hard medical staff work in the NHS treating a family member who sadly passed away last Wednesday. Therefore I have nothing but praise for hard working staff in the medical profession.

"It would be far better if the UKIP candidates did the same and recognise and acknowledge the positive contributions all the medical staff do for our well being up and down the country."