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DH to publish proposals for widening access to medical profession

The Government will soon publish new proposals for widening access to the medical profession to people of all backgrounds, Pulse has learnt.

Health minister Dr Dan Poulter met with Niall Dickson, GMC chief executive, last month to discuss ways to make the medical profession more accessible and ‘encourage aspiration’.

The proposals will be released in the Government’s mandate to Health Education England, the organisation responsible for NHS education, training and recruitment, which Pulse has learnt will be published ‘shortly’.

The GMC has commissioned independent research on student selection, and has also recently launched a review into the success of certain groups of medical graduates taking the MRCGP exam.

A BMA report published in 2009 found only one in seven successful applicants to UK medical schools are from the lowest economic groups, despite them making up just under half of the UK population.

Professor Bill Irish, the chair of the GP National Recruitment Office and a GP in Bristol recently told Pulse that the top universities in the country, whose entry requirements tend to focus on academic qualifications, are not doing enough to produce future GPs and are adding to a recruitment crisis in the profession.

Mr Dickson said: ‘Medical schools are responsible for selecting students and they have done some excellent work to promote fairness and encourage aspiration.

‘We have been working with the Department of Health in England and the Medical Schools Council to make sure medical education is accessible to everyone with the ability and aptitude to be a good doctor.

‘To understand this issue better, we have published independent research on student selection and we have included new questions on the socio-economic backgrounds of doctors in training in our annual National Training Survey. We all want the profession to attract the brightest and the best talent from all parts of society.’

A DH spokesman said: ‘Proposals to support wider access to medical education will be published shortly in the Health Education England mandate.’