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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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  • .....except that no-one is dying in the streets of Dublin,Dortmund or Dieppe simply because they have to pay a few euros to see a GP.
    Why are we so arrogant that we believe that our dysfunctional, shabby, inefficient "world class "NHS is the only model for health care?

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  • robin..please
    patients here are often spending money on the prescription charge that many cannot afford
    also it is factually wrong to say the nhs is inefficient
    the issue is underfunding and massive waste by political interference from both parties and their serially insane schemery..pfi/internal market/outsourcing etc etc..all of which have been criminally wasteful catastrophes
    internal market alone is reckoned to waste 10 billion plus a year with minimal advantages--before the cost of fragmentation and dumbing down of staff due to private outsourcers short termism loss leading to get contracts.
    I do agree that there needs to be more of an incentive for people to look after thier health--but in the usa their fantastically wasteful and awful health 'care' private industry provides massive incentives it would seem to do so to save money..yet there are millions with no care and more who bankrupt themselves to pay for care.
    there is nothing whatever wrong with the nhs concept..noble and efficient..it is the *ucking idiot politicians and ideologues who have ruined it.
    we must return to a clinician led integrated service..that is the only way any nation can possibly afford health care now and in the future

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  • "factually wrong to say the NHS is inefficient"??
    Do you reside in a galaxy far,far away?
    One of my jobs as a CCG GP Exec was to chair the weekly Quality Improvement Committee, an oxymoron if ever there was one.This dispiriting experience would review the Significant Events from Secondary Care and how they had failed to learn from them.
    Given your presence on another planet if not galaxy you clearly will have failed to notice the daily toll of missing/late clinic letters,failure of discharge summaries to be presented in a timely manner, "lost to follow up", "please arrange the following tests...because we cannot be bothered to".If the NHS is not inefficient, why is PULSE reporting the actions to try and stop Secondary Care dumping on us?
    At many levels, the NHS is a grossly inefficient and (see the Keogh Report)often seriously harming to patients.
    The politicians did not cause the problems at Mid Staffs or Barrow in Furness, but I agree that if our clinicians had the courage to lead we might be able to salvage something from the mess.

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  • robin I agree with all your points but these are details compared to the fact that a genuine nhs(before the interference by politicians) IS the most efficient system--far more than insurance based or private systems.
    for example the internal market pf1 private outsourcing waste 15 to 20 billion a year not going into patient acre and independent studies show the benefits of the internal market are minimal..and that's not even accouting for the fragmentation.
    what I mean is to return to the clinically led nhs before the insane damage done by ideologues/'management'religion fanatics thatcher/major/blair..(ably helped to damage the nhs by our present CEO)/brown/Cameron..all the reforms are actually catastrophic deforms .
    I think we are talking past each other.
    the problems you state are due to the internal market with nhs bodies dumping work onto each other--us..because they have a financial incentive to do so
    another reason why the internal market must be liquidated and I support the nhs reinstatement bill
    what we have now is not the nhs--far from it unfortunately..it is easy for people to confuse the present politically inspired mess from the real nhs concept..which was my drift
    best wishes
    anon.

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  • ps
    the politicians DID cause Stafford..the internal market created the system that to become a foundation trust they 'saved' money by cutting nursing staff...and disgustingly some of them got the blame for that politicomanagerial failure..further now we have that ultimate failure of a politician runt who despite crowing on like an idiot about labour causing Stafford had ther profound irresponsible cheek to suppress the report confirming that 3/4 of trusts have inadequate nursing numbers NOW.
    current NHS failures are 99% due to politicians interference plus gross underfunding/undermanning of all clinical staff way below that of more enlightended European nations.

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  • I got into Liverpool through clearing in 1974, so this is by no means a first.

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  • well done mr hunt for making it so attractive to enter the profession!
    you sir are a genius!

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  • Is this true?
    I think there were clearing students in my class in 1980!

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  • Medical degrees have been offered through clearing previously, this is not the first time it has occurred.

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  • This is a story worthy of St George’s, University of London intranet newsletter.

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  • There have always been places via clearing

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  • Prof Higham is less than well informed,the medical school and teaching hospital at St Georges is not the only one on the same campus.
    The medical school in Birmingham is attached by subterranean tunnels to the adjacent old Queen Elizabeth Hospital (opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in the nineteen thirties)and is still being used. It is right next to the new QE (teaching hospital) on the university campus.
    My medical school place was through clearing 40 years ago.

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  • need to stop thinking it takes 5a* to do medecine,
    all it needs is people who care, with appetite for hard work,and reasonable problem solving skills, ie any car mechanic or cid detective could be a very good dr, as long as they cared about people and had empathy and ability to care, and be humble.
    ie Deans please note, OCD workaholics on "the spectrum" and intelligent hedonists obsessed with "work life balance", hellbent on travel to the southern hemisphere need not apply.
    back in the day if you were the right person forthe job , 3C's or better was enough.
    i am not condoning working 8 days a week, but if you want to be a Dr. you cannot complain about the hard work.
    it is, or was a vocation, not a prize for being top of the class.
    the pay was,is and always will be not bad, you will never go hungry.
    it was (?still is) respected and trusted. something money cant buy.
    bring on more clearing, those who get in via this route will be grateful for the place and probably honored to be a Dr, rather than arogant entitled hedonists.
    get over yourselves.
    nearly everybody works very long hours,
    try asking a single mum how they feel about long hours without pay.
    Ps the patient is Not the enemy!

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  • Clearing or otherwise, it's a really S&*T job and you would be well advised to run a mile. Go and do forestry or something that you are going to wake up with a real enthusiasm to go to work not get dumped on by colleagues, the gutter press, the Govt, the RCGP, GMC, CQC, mis-informed public etc etc. "GP to do" - why bother?!

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  • Peter Brigg FTW. Top comment.

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  • Wonderful comment Peter Brigg, relevant for all professions.

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