The number of applicants for university medicine courses has fallen by 4% on last year, according to UCAS data.
The data, which covers applicants applying to courses with a 15 October deadline, found that a total of 19,210 people applied to medical school – 890 fewer people than last year.
The decrease continues a downward trend in applications, which began in 2014.
The BMA says that the figures show that medicine is ’no longer seen as a desirable and satisfying career’.
The number of students applying from the EU has seen the sharpest drop in applications with a 16% decrease as 330 fewer students applied.
However, the data shows that 18-year-old English applicants to medicine have increased by 5% with an additional 310 students applying.
UCAS urges caution in the data, pointing out that only 10% of eventual applicants apply by this stage so the full picture of demand for UK higher education, including from EU students, will only be clear after the main January deadline.
Dr Charlie Bell, co-chair of the BMA’s medical student committee, said: ’I believe we are seeing the impact of the breakdown in trust between the government and the medical profession over the last year as a result of the junior doctor contract dispute.
’This has contributed to a demoralised workforce which, coupled with staff shortages, a funding crisis and ever greater pressure on services, means the NHS is now seen as a less desirable place to work. On top of this, rising tuition fees and increasing student debt are deterring students from applying for medicine.
’It’s concerning, if not unsurprising, to see the sharpest decrease has been among applicants from the European Union. After the referendum result and the government’s inability to clarify future funding arrangements for EU students, it must be hard for capable, talented young people from Europe to see a future working in the NHS.’
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced plans last month to increase the number of medical school places by 1,500 each year from September 2018 and force incoming students to work in the NHS for four years after qualifying.
Students have been able to submit applications for all 2017 courses from early September this year.