Doctors' leaders have written to the Daily Mail, contesting comments made in an article about women doctors in the newspaper by London consultant surgeon Professor J Meirion Thomas.
The number of women doctors is having a negative impact on the NHS, the professor claimed, because "most female doctors end up working part-time - usually in general practice - and then retire early".
BMA equality and diversity committee chairman Krishna Kasaraneni responded by saying that he was appalled by some of the claims made in the article.
"By questioning the commitment of women doctors working for the NHS, Professor Thomas has shown just how out of touch he is with the realities of our modern healthcare system," he said.
Taking time off from work in order to have children and possibly then choosing to return to work part-time, is standard practice in workplaces across the UK, Mr Kasaraneni pointed out, and is often fundamental in allowing highly qualified and competent women to continue their medical careers after starting a family.
Rebutting Professor Thomas’s suggestion that general practice is organised for the convenience of female GPs, he insisted that women deserve their place in the NHS and work hard to achieve it.
The article has also been attacked by the Medical Women's Federation arguing that women should not be penalised for having babies, just as men (including Professor Thomas) are not penalised for opting to go into private practice or to pursue managerial posts which reduce their clinical commitments.