Published: 11/07/2002, Volume II2, No.5813 Page 18 19

The medical profession has been dominated by men since Adam was a lad, which may account for disquiet at news from the British Medical Association annual conference that women comprise around 60 per cent of medical school intake. In The Daily Telegraph, Dr James Coulston, chair of the Welsh medical students' committee, said: 'Female students at 18 perform better at interview.Female students at 18 perform better at A-levels.Female students look better, not only on application forms, but, often, in real life.'

Despite the consultant pay deal, Dr Coulston thinks 18-year-old males may be looking for more lucrative careers with less time spent training.

Despite calls from the conference floor for admissions tutors to look favourably on males before the 'species becomes extinct', it must have reassured women to hear Dr Coulston say positive discrimination for men was not the answer.

Recruiting new doctors is only part of the problem.Another is how to retain them.The Mirror magazine M revealed that an increasing number of GPs are quitting the NHS, jumping on the 'Botox bandwagon'and practising 'cosmetic medicine' to express their disillusionment with the health service - while incidentally boosting their income, of course.

Doctors like Mervyn Patterson spend their days 'administering injections to fill wrinkles, plumping up lips with collagen and performing laser hair removal on bikini lines'and counselling patients on crow's feet instead of cancer care.

One can only wonder how much sympathy Mirror readers reserve for GPs who think they are 'woefully underpaid'when a survey of GP income by the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants shows their average NHS income was just over£63,000 last year.And that is without the payments doctors fail to disclose from drug companies for recruiting patients to clinical trials - up to£15,000 extra a week for three hours' work, says this week's British Medical Journal .

Payments are at levels of 'serious concern to research ethics committees'.

'What planet have they been on?'asked Dennis Scott, from Poole, Dorset, in a letter to the Daily Express .He was answering resident medic Dr Rosemary's claim that 'doctors are more concerned about the pressure of working under the constant threat of receiving a complaint'. It is a question with some resonance.