A consultation has been launched on the standards for a proposed doctor apprenticeship scheme.
Health Education England said they were aiming to get doctor apprenticeships in place from September 2022.
It is hoped that the scheme – being developed with input from the GMC and the Medical Schools Council – will make the profession ‘more accessible, more diverse and more representative of local communities’.
The standards out for consultation until the 16 September does not set out a curriculum or how it is delivered but rather lay out what should be expected from an apprenticeship.
Those on the scheme would be employed for the duration of their medical degree and would do ‘on the job’ learning through clinical placements.
They would still be expected to complete a medical degree and any apprenticeship would be signed off by the GMC, HEE said.
But an apprenticeship could offer a new route into the profession taking away some of the financial burden and barriers that lock ‘talented people’ out of traditional routes due to geographical or socio-economic reasons.
HEE said that ‘an apprenticeship could help to change that, while maintaining the exact same high standards of training’.
With a spokesperson adding: ‘We want to spread opportunity out to local communities and help to address the challenge of recruiting and retaining doctors within areas such as the north east.’
Earlier this year Doctors Association UK members voted unanimously to oppose the new scheme due to reports it would have a heavy primary care focus.
The union also had concerns about inadequate training and warning that GP trainers would lack time to train apprentices.
In information to support the consultation of the standards, HEE said all apprentices, as with current medical students, could pursue a speciality of their choice.
‘The apprenticeship will cover the initial medical degree which includes no specialisms.
‘Some medical school courses already have a greater focus on some areas such as primary care and this is likely to continue if that medical school chooses to offer the medical degree as an apprenticeship.’
Details on the consultation can be found here.