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Independents' Day

DH shelves plans to handcuff UK-trained doctors to NHS for four years

The Department of Health has kicked plans to force UK medical graduates to spend four years working in the NHS into the long grass, after being warned that it would ‘exacerbate’ the workforce crisis.

The DH did add that it would 'continue to consider' how to ensure taxpayer return from the cost of medical education, but a DH spokesperson told Pulse that there was no date to revisit the idea of four-year minimum service for the time being.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt had told the Conservative Party conference last year that it would see 'all those trained as doctors on the NHS... required to work in the NHS for a minimum of four years after graduation', but the DH told Pulse the consultation could not reach a conclusion on the matter.

The DH will today respond to its consultation on how to expand medical schools places by a quarter.

Pulse understands this will rubber-stamp plans for medical schools funding to be geared towards institutions with a proven track record on producing GPs, when allocating 1,000 or the 1,500 new training places.

In a briefing ahead of publishing the full response later today, the DH also said it would focus on boosting diversity in the workforce, including for disadvantaged students.

It added that medical schools will have to show how they will prioritise training in rural and coastal regions, which historically struggle to recruit.

Health minister Philip Dunne said: 'Not only is this the biggest ever expansion to the number of doctor training places, but it’s also one of the most inclusive; ensuring everyone has the chance to study medicine regardless of their background, and ensuring the NHS is equipped for the future with doctors serving in the areas that need them the most.’

The BMA's consultation submission to the DH had argued that 'tax payers get a significant return on their investment from the dedicated service provided by all doctors over the course of their career'.

It added that such a policy would exacerbate workforce woes, discourage students from poorer background, and was potentially discriminatory to women who are more likely to take a career break.

The RCGP had said at the time this would not happen, as it could not be enforced.

The BMA said they would welcome further clarity on the matter of forcing graduates to work in the NHS.

BMA medical students committee co-chair Harrison Carter said: 'Medical students... need clarity on whether they must work for the NHS for a minimum number of years following graduation.

'This proposal isn’t necessary as only a small minority of doctors do not complete their training in the NHS and it would only serve to worsen poor morale and potentially discourage students from choosing medicine. It could also be discriminatory towards women, who are more likely to take more career breaks than men.'



Readers' comments (29)

  • National Hopeless Service

    My son is a final year medical student. He has heard so many dreadful stories from junior doctors of no work life balance, poor pay and impossible demands that he has started to look for a career outside of coal face medicine. We have enough people going through medical schools already. The problem is the job at the end is shit, solving that first might be a better priority than half baked ideas like this.

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  • we have not failed to produce the academics, we never have.

    What nonsense the quality of british medical science has nose dived over the last 30 years.

    Our top line output is minimal and the most impactful papers are either from british origin medical scientists who have left and are now working in the USA or European medics in the UK.

    The state of british biomedical research is fairly poor ( in comparison to where it was until the early 1980's).

    The rest of the article is fairly funny though!

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  • Part time medical degree?5-8-10+ year with the associated,fees+ get a GP from this over a decade of part time earning+ full time work at a time in a persons life when they should be living, family house carreer etc. 40+ when you are in your junior doctor years.How many years as a senor experience doctor,do you ever pay off your debt.NO work life balance just one long treadmill.This would not be attractive, but factor in at the end of it and you get a shirinking income, excessive work and risk would I take this on as a youngster who didnt get into med school.NO NO NO.

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  • Is there no end to the stupidity that spews forth from people who should know better?

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  • Hmmm, second class doctors for primary care, probably best just to continue to increase medical school intake and stop refusing entry to keen young people perfectly capable of doing the job. At least if they start young they will have the potential for a full career. Better this than 'upskilling' people who would not have been able to get in in the first place, do we really want to dumb down primary care.

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  • Just to be absolutely clear - from his various bios it seems that Professor Cumming does not possess a medical degree. He may find that accessing one although "not rocket science" is not quite so easy as he suggests.

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  • HEE-haw the donkey said:)

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  • I think we should all evaluate this idea properly rather than dismiss it. I know many excellent physios, nurses etc who would be excellent GPs in particular there are people out there who because of family commitments cannot contemplate going to do a medical degree fulltime but can complete it part-time. I have always felt there should be a way for professionals to become GPs via an "apprentice" route or a "certified accountant type route" where you work and learn on the job to become a GP where you work, study and gain experience on the job. We also need academics and all the rest but I think this is interesting way forward allowing many potential excellent GPs a way forward to achieve their aim.

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  • My job is so easy a plumber can do it- so We can charge as much or more than a plumber!!!

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  • Three Cs to get into Charing Cross in the late 1970s, BBC to go to Westminster, BCC for King's. I got ABC. Bristol wanted 3As even then and wouldn't look at anyone state educated. I was interviewed by some worthies and never a psychometric test in sight. Grade inflation has made this sort of thing impossible now. Thank goodness things are getting better and better every day. Wouldn't want to be young again.

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