In Fay Weldon’s book What Makes Women Happy (2006) we find the following sentence on the first page:
The brutal answer to what makes women happy is, ‘Nothing, not for more than ten minutes at a time.’
I was reminded of the book by an article on the front page of today’s Times, titled, ‘Happiness is the best medicine, grumpy doctors and nurses told’. It starts:
Doctors, nurses and other NHS staff need to be more positive at work, the new whistleblowing chief for the health service has said.
Henrietta Hughes said that low-level grumpiness could harm patients and contribute to a mistrustful ‘toxic environment’ in which staff were reluctant to speak out. She said that ‘every single person’ in the health service had to help to make it a happier place to work and end a culture of bullying and poor care. [my emphasis]
What is the source of this ‘low-level grumpiness’? The NHS is a notably female-dominated organization – historically on the administrative side, but increasingly on the clinical side, too. 70% of medical students today are female, along with over 50% of GPs (average salary over £100,000 p.a.) That’s why the GP service has gone to pot in the space of a generation.
Thinking back on my own 30-year-long business career, it occurs to me that the cheerfulness of workplaces was inversely related to the proportion of women working in them. Conversely, of course, the higher the proportion of men, the happier the workplace, and all-male workplaces are, predictably, a riot of happiness and laughter. Always. It’s a reflection of the same underlying reality that comedians are funny, and comediennes aren’t (with the exception of Katherine Ryan, and one or two others).
All-female workplaces must be a nightmare, you’d predict, and you’d be right. Last year 6oodfella posted a critique of an article in which Samantha Brick outlined her experience – harrowing, yet hilarious – of launching and running an all-female film production company. Enjoy.
I digress. One key reason the NHS is such a disaster is that its prime objective for the last 40 years has been to create a huge number of part-time, secure, well-paid jobs in pleasant surroundings for women. Part of the selection process for medical students is a panel interview, and as we’d expect, the subjective process is manipulated in order to preference women over men. Dr Vernon Coleman, the first TV doctor and the author of 100+ books, was writing about this problem 40+ years ago, predicting accurately where it would inevitably lead.
Compared with male doctors, female doctors:
– are more likely to quit straight after qualifying
– work, on average, half the hours over their careers. So female doctors take up 70% of the NHS doctor training budget, but later deliver only 33% of the work. Male doctors, conversely, take up 30% of the training budget, and deliver 67% of the work.
– are more likely to work part-time, regardless of whether or not they have young children
– are less likely to work unsocial hours
– are disinclined to work in the more stressful disciplines, such as A&E
However, let’s never forget that women are strong and capable. Yay.
There’s an obvious policy solution to the problems facing the NHS:
Introduce a moratorium on recruiting female medical students for the next 25 years. After its inevitable benefits have been proven to everyone but hatchet-faced feminists, renew the moratorium for another 25 years.
We could train many more committed male doctors for the money currently being wasted on training uncommitted female doctors. I’ll be passing the moratorium suggestion to the general election manifesto committee shortly, for consideration. I don’t anticipate any objections. Sometimes the best solutions to problems are the simplest ones.
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