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Medicine degrees offered through clearing 'for first time ever'

A London university is going to be offering medical course places via 'clearing' in a first for any medical school, which junior doctor leaders say is a 'sad indictment' of the NHS.

St George's, University of London has this year opened up its five-year medical degree undergraduate course to the process, typically used to fill places that would otherwise go unfilled.

The Medical Schools Council told Pulse that it was a first among UK medical schools.

It comes as the total number of UK students applying for places at medical school fell last year for the second year running, dropping by 13.5% on two years previously, with this blamed on 'negative publicity' regarding seven-day NHS political targets and worsening working condition for doctors.

But a spokesperson for the university told Pulse that it was 'definitely not because of falling applications', but rather related to the 'unpredicability' of A-level grades and would offer the 'fairest' opportunity to 'outstanding' students.

A spokesperson said: 'St George’s, University of London has a range of courses going into Clearing this year and has retained a limited number of places on its Medicine (MBBS 5 year) undergraduate course for high quality students, who meet our requirements, for the first time.  

'We believe that going into Clearing is the fairest way for us to get outstanding students given the unpredictability of A level grades and the strict intake quotas imposed on the MBBS programme. Some students will have exceeded their grade expectations and will now be able to study Medicine, others will be unable to meet their conditional offer.' 

Professor Jenny Higham, Principal of St George’s, University of London, said: 'This is a great opportunity for students to study at the only UK university to share a campus with a teaching hospital, to take up a place in the current cycle, and avoid delaying their chosen career.'

Last year GP academic leaders said that the decline in medical school applications was ‘too large to be due to chance’, and that some students were being put off by publicity around cuts in NHS funding, increasing workloads and the expectation of seven-day working – as well as changes to GPs’ and consultants’ contracts.

Since then, the Government has imposed a new contract on junior doctors despite their fierce opposition and reports of declining morale.

Dr Johann Malawana, former chair of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee and leader of the profession's fight against the Government's imposition, told Pulse: 'I cannot remember places at medical school being offered through clearing. It is a sad indictment on how poorly this Government has managed the NHS. Careers in medicine traditionally attract many times the number of applicants per place, yet St George's has now ended up having to offer places through clearing.

'It is time the Government took the problems caused by poorly evidenced policies seriously and listened to the frontline staff. This country is already in the midst of a crisis in the NHS and this Government is compounding previous disastrous policies with poor handling of this crisis.'

A spokesperson for the Medical Schools Council said: 'The possibility of application through clearing for medical degree programmes offers an exciting opportunity, particularly for highly qualified students who perhaps just failed to obtain their predicted A*s and missed out on places at their firm and insurance offers.'

Readers' comments (36)

  • Going to medical school =heavy in debt and long hours and poor pay compared to others.See telegraph on rankings(medicine is near the bottom) + a bonus manslaughter charge if you miss anything. These are the top smart students that can go to do any course they choose and they have now become wiser. There is also a brain drain from the country post graduation too once they realize the amount of real and psychological stress we have. Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the USA are laughing all the way to the bank. Free education and training over the years thanks to us.

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  • Clearing for medical school the sh** really has hit the fan.

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  • Whilst I understand the feelings and fears of medicine going to clearing, on a personal note my son obtained 12 A* GCSE's but didn't do as expected in his A'Levels and got 2A's And 2B's therefore was turned down by the medical school he had obtained a place at. He has consequently completed a BSc and still is keen to go into medicine and has again successfully obtained a place. The point I am making is because this is his second degree we now have to find £9k a year to find him through his medical training. Had this option been around 3 years ago this could have been the way forward for him so do agree with it and think it's progression but again accept this is on a personal note but is a valid option for students still surprisingly keen to go into a medical profession.

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  • Why is anyone surprised. I don't know many doctors who want to work in this current climate. CQC, GMC, lawyers after you for any and everything. Make the job worth while and PAY them. They might then come again. Thank you Mr. Hunt and the conservatives for this beautiful legacy.

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  • Education is a business. One unfilled place is 10k per year. No maths required fathom sums involved. Business is business, no sentiments or quality considerations involved.

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  • Good for students who want to get into medical school , complete 5 years and then leave the country go wherever they wish.

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  • It is arguable whether this country, particularly the tories, will borrow more to pay for the NHS. Trillions are owed all over the world and the tories seem determined to balance the government expenditure. The same does not apply in other countries. My view is that the government will not give any more finance to the NHS. This government couldn't care if less students apply to do study medicine. Even if the places end up not being filled, and we all know that this is not going to happen, the government would still not worry. The tories will force the UK immigration doors open, despite Brexit, to any doctor in the world to come here. There are countless numbers in Russia, Cuba..... that will arrive and work for half the rates that we get. There will be no restriction on entry, despite Royal Colleges complaining. Much care will be delivered virtually through video and telephone consultations by doctors from India...

    It's called Capitalism!

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  • try getting into Manchester or Aberystwyth for Robotics - Much harder . But then it is the future . Robodoc -is coming.

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  • i'm glad that students are thinking seriously about their future.

    you only have to read the press and public comments to see how much some people hate doctors.

    you should only do medicine now if you really really want to be a doctor and are happy to work for free and never have a family or a social life and are willing to end your career if you make a single mistake. medicine is not for the fool hardy.

    as well as he medical hating press and public - we are constantly told we can be replaced easily by NPs, ANPS, PAs, pharmacists, google, siri, robots etc - so why embark on 6 figure debt for a career that is obsolete.

    i could go on but to quote another person 'chickens coming home to roost'.

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  • @|Anonymous | Sessional/Locum GP|12 Aug 2016 1:46pm

    Bang on mate!

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  • Key question is how many, is it not?
    How many places in clearing, out of how many total places in the first year, please?

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  • Welcome to Jeremys world

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  • Most of the comments above are anti government for it's policy of cuts. Would it be better to go the way of Greece? In Greece, only 20% of the health service remains, shortage of even bandages. This the result of INDEBTEDNESS. So, as Kennedy said, think not what the NHS can do for you,but what you can do for the NHS.
    The woes we face today in every government funded service is the result of excessive borrowing by successive past governments, bringing this country to its knees. The final death knell will come when Jeremy Corbin comes to power. Long live 1979.

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  • You think being a Dr is tough?? Try Community Pharmacy! An abject waste of time. Literally better skipping A pharmacy degree to work in McDonalds. At least a Dr has skill sought after across the globe. Admitting to working as a community pharmacist gets more embarrassing by the day.

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  • Wrong!
    I was offered 3 places through clearing in 1997.
    This was due to offering too many the year before and hence being over their quota so they preferred to wait to see what grades students attained and then make offers.

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  • I would not be a doctor again, just the fear of litigation, the fear of mistakes in such a rushed consultation with the phone ringing for all sorts of other things, the numbers seen [ my partner can see 75/ day = 45 at work and then 30 OOH from 7am to 1 am next day { I just cannot do it anymore} I just 45 +]. Never mind CQC, GMC,CCG [ you cannot even refer if you wish].
    With your brains, do something else.
    As Prof Nicholson put it, it is resilience like soldiers at war, except doctors never get time off the combat zone.
    Should medicine be like war? In the UK, it is.

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  • All three of my teenage children have contemplated joining their parents in the profession. I never encouraged those thoughts but they are all bright and would get the grades. Sadly both my wife and I have counselled them to look at alternative careers as the profession has lost its way. The slow steady denigration has worked.

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  • So many years treating your patients like low IQ cattle. Throwing us out at 8 days notice 'coz we asked for a second opinion. So many cases when we had to beg and beg and beg for a reference on to a consultant which confirmed that we had cancer. Charging us £££ for a simple letter to prove we've been very ill.
    And you're surprized that some of us don't think that you can walk on CO(NH2)2

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  • Decimus lunatis would like a referral - please refer him/her asap as I understand he/she has a score to settle with GPs and somebody did not refer making him/her feel undervalued intellectually = IQ was underestimated. Needs urgent help please or sector 3 action will turn to a charge of the light brigade

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  • Ha ha! Can anyone wonder why people dont want to be doctors anymore?

    Don't fret though, soon the NHS will fall and you can pay really big £££££ to be seen by any doc left standing in the private system where they will be happy to refer you to anyone as long as you pay enough to cover all their indemnity, inspection fees, accreditation fees, accomodation costs, living expenses, student loans, wages, gmc charges etc.....

    Oh and if you don't have the odd tens of thousands knocking about for chemo and cancer treatments, well then like those in America, you may just have to go without!

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