This site is intended for health professionals only

Ministers to carry out extensive review of medical school places

The Government is to carry out its largest review of the number of medical school places in England for six years, to assess whether it needs to increase the number of doctors being trained.

The review, launched jointly by the Department of Health and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), has been commissioned to ensure an ‘adequate and affordable supply of good-quality trained doctors'.

It comes after a recent report from the Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI) recommended the number of entry-level GP training posts should increase by 450 over the next four years, to around 3,250.

The DH's review, which is also being carried out by the CfWI, will focus purely on medical school numbers. But Sir Graeme Catto, former president of the GMC and co-chair of the review with NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh, told Pulse the findings would be considered in the context of the recommendation for an increase in GPs.

The review, described by the DH as a ‘system-wide analysis of long-term supply and demand', will assess changing roles in the health workforce, and the evolving nature of care, including the greater emphasis on shifting services into the community.

The report, expected in autumn 2012, will make recommendations in time to determine the intake to medical and dental schools in England in 2013/14 and beyond.

Health minister Anne Milton said in the Commons: ‘HEFCE and the DH have agreed this is an opportune time for a further review of the number of places.'

Sir Graeme said the review would have to consider a ‘hugely complex' set of factors, including a higher proportion of women in the workforce, the EU working time directive, case mix and funding.

‘It will lead into a review of where medical students ought to be placed,' he said. ‘Independent of the group I'm co-chairing, there will be a move to try and improve the educational background for all doctors.'

Dr Clare Gerada, RCGP chair, said: ‘We are underproducing GPs, but overproducing doctors.'