First minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged £23 million to increase the number of medical school places in Scotland and widen access to medical schools, and another £3m for 500 advanced nurse practitioners.
An additional 50 medical student places will be available from August, with priority given to students from poorer backgrounds, Ms Sturgeon confirmed.
The moves are part of a £27 million package for boosting workforce numbers.
Ms Sturgeon said: ‘We need to make sure that we are training the right numbers of professionals – in and across different specialties – with the skills they need for the health service of the future.
She added: ‘Advanced nurse practitioners are hugely important. They already work closely with GPs, district nurses and other healthcare professional. They potentially have an even bigger role to play in assessing, treating and diagnosing people in the community – during the day and out of hours.’
The funding would help attract students from poorer backgrounds to enter medicine, she said.
’At present only one in 20 new doctors come from the most disadvantaged areas of our country. If we had truly equal access to the medical profession that figure would be one in five.
’That’s not a reflection on the talent or aptitude of students from disadvantaged areas, it’s an indication of how disadvantage acts as a barrier to equal opportunity.’