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People from lower socioeconomic backgrounds 'underrepresented' in medicine, GMC finds

People from a lower socioeconomic background are ‘proportionally underrepresented’ in medicine, a GMC study has found.

The regulator’s National Training Survey questioned 52,797 doctors in training, and its results revealed that there was still large disparities in the numbers of doctors coming from affluent backgrounds compared with those from deprived backgrounds.

The GMC said that it hoped these results would allow medical schools and other groups to see best how to ‘promote fairness and encourage aspiration’.

Using postcodes provided by the trainees, the results revealed that only 17.2% of doctors were brought up in the top 40% of most deprived areas in the UK, compared with 64.6% from the top 40% of most affluent areas.

The study also found that 33.7% of doctors in training came from an independent or fee paying school, compared with a national average of around 7%.

The report concluded: ‘People from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are proportionally underrepresented in medicine.’

The GMC chair, Professor Sir Peter Rubin, said: ‘Medicine should attract the brightest and the best from all parts of society. By adding these socioeconomic questions to the GMC’s national training survey, we are better able to see not only which parts of society tomorrow’s doctors are coming from, but where medical schools and others may need to work differently to promote fairness and encourage aspiration.’

The GMC also said that ‘these data may not reflect the impact of efforts to widen access to medicine in recent years’ as many doctors in training entered medical school ‘some years ago’.

Readers' comments (10)

  • Whatever next? Will you be telling us that bears sh*t in the woods?
    I speak as one who got an assisted place to a posh school and came from a deprived socioeconomic class / area whose parents said that being a doctor was a good career choice - shows what they knew huh? But not their fault, not moving in such circles themselves.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Question :
    Are you going to repeat this kind of survey over and over again and hope the result would eventually be different? I just recall what Eistein said

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  • I think part of this is that many doctors' children were attracted to medicine as a worthwhile career. I wonder if this will still be the case in the next few years.

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  • This is more a condemnation of our educational system than our profession.
    Regarding choice of careers, remember that old American bumper sticker- Support a Lawyer-send your kid to Medical School!?

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  • No excrement Benedict. .

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  • My Dad was a steelworker. I went to a comprehensive school. I'm a Doctor because my old man had work ethic that meant we had to do our school work above anything else, we did whilst my Mum was cleaning offices every night.
    Positively discriminate and we'll throw the kids of the previously socially mobile down the drain. 1 generation and we're back to where we started!
    I think this government will make medicine a step down the social class anyway and anyone with any ounce of brain won't want to be a doctor whatever social class they come from.

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  • I made it to medicine from a very low socioeconomic background, I become less and less convinced that this is something to be proud of with each passing year. I would be horrified to think that any of my children would want to consider doing the same.

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  • This is an utter lie according to my patients. They think there is a new Lee socio economic class then unemployed/benefit living. It's called General practitioner. As GPs are the biggest number of doctors in any specialty, low socio-economic group is well represented!

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  • Imagine what an uproar there would be if these figures related to ethnicity or sex. This is partly a consequence of the academic competition at medical schools which demand the top grades at GCSE as the way to medical schools. Some places like edinburgh do not even bother to interview. The medical school entrance system is institutionally classist. If applied to race or sex it would be illegal.

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  • ‘Medicine should attract the brightest and the best from all parts of society. ..'
    Why? to be tortured and die under the hand of the GMC?
    Closet Imperialists like Sir Peter does seem to go for prime trophies to hang over the fireplace.
    You do not need to be the best and brightest to realize when something is bad for your health, for your pocket, for your society,...
    These GMControlfreaks should start doing some honest work ... it might stop them sticking their noses into places where they have no business.

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