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Five new schools announced for ‘biggest expansion’ of medical education

Five new medical schools will launch across England as the Government bids to deliver the ‘biggest ever increase’ to the workforce.

The new schools, based in Sunderland, Lancashire, Canterbury, Lincoln and Chelmsford, form part of the Government’s pledge to boost training places by 1,500 by 2020.

The DHSC has also funded a significant expansion at Aston University in Birmingham, which will expand its course by 100 places. Other smaller allocations of new places have been awarded to a range of existing medical schools.

The five new medical schools will be based at:

  • University of Sunderland;
  • Edge Hill University;
  • Anglia Ruskin University;
  • Lincoln – the University of Nottingham in partnership with the University of Lincoln;
  • Canterbury – Joint Medical School between Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Kent

In all, 630 extra places will become available from September, bringing the total intake for 2018/19 to 6,701.

The new places were awarded following a ‘rigorous bidding process’, which was focused on means to boost recruitment in under-doctored areas, including rural and coastal areas.

Nine in 10 of the 1,500 new places are outside of London, and nearly a third in the North of England, which traditionally struggles to attract doctors, said the DHSC.

Applicants also had to show ‘a focus on the prioritised specialties of general practice, psychiatry and any other shortage specialties’.

Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘Setting up five new medical schools is part of the biggest ever expansion of our medical and nursing workforce, which will help us deal with the challenges of having around one million more over-75s in 10 years’ time.

‘These schools are being set up in parts of the country where it can be hard to recruit and attract new doctors – but will benefit doctors everywhere as we start to eliminate the rota gaps that add so much pressure to their work.’

Last year, think-tank Reform warned that the expansion by 1,500 medical schools places will only create 750 more full-time-equivalent consultants or GPs. It urged the Government to completely remove the cap on places instead.

It was also revealed last year that ‘only a third’ of places would come on stream from 2018, although this has now risen to 42%.

The Government pledged in 2015 that there would be 5,000 more GPs by 2020, although this is in grave doubt after official figures last year revealed a net loss of 1,200 GPs between September 2016 and September 2017.