By Lilian Anekwe
Newly-qualified GPs could be hit with a graduate tax of tens of thousands of pounds under proposals by the coalition Government’s business secretary Vince Cable, research has predicted.
A graduate tax would see the cost of a medical degree rocket, with medical leaders warning the tax could make general practice unaffordable and inaccessible to applicants from lower income backgrounds.
The BMA estimates current medical students qualify with an average debt in the region of £37,000, but this is as high as £60,000 for doctors who qualify from medical schools in London. In addition, parents contribute an average of £20,000 in financial support and living costs.
But research by the University and College Union predicts that medical students could be amongst the worst hit by the introduction of a graduate tax.
By modelling using an average salary for a full-time doctor of £84,451, researchers calculated that paying the tax at a rate of 3% for 25 years would cost newly-qualified doctors £63,338. Paying a tax rate of 5% over the same period of time would cost £105,564 and a 7% rate would cost £118,231 – the highest rate of all professions analysed.
In July, Mr Cable suggested that his personal preference for a future model of university funding would be to imposing a tax on all future graduates once they begin employment, to pay for the university fees the incurred during their degree.
The coalition Government moved quickly to distance themselves from the suggestion after it drew stinging criticism, and insisted all options were still under review and no decision would be taken ahead of the publication of a review of higher education funding by Lord Browne, which is expected to be published in October.
In it’s submission to Lord Browne’s review the BMA proposed several alternative measures, including a reducing medical students’ debt every year that they are employed by the NHS.
A spokesperson told Pulse: ‘Medical degrees are very intensive and there’s no time for part time work.
‘If we are talk about potentially doubling medical student debt we would have concerns about whether people from low and middle income families could be discouraged from applying.’
Report Graduate tax ‘could hit GPs worst’ Read the full BMA submission