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350 new medical school places spark doctor training concerns

350 new medical school places spark doctor training concerns

Doctor leaders have raised concerns around training capacity within the NHS, after the Government announced 350 new medical school places.

The additional places, backed by more than £2.4bn in funding, have been allocated to medical schools across England targeted to ‘support under-doctored areas’.

Doctor leaders and trainers welcomed the expansion, pledged in the NHS workforce plan last year, but also raised concerns over a lack of capacity to train future doctors out of medical school.

This included the BMA, which called for investment in the NHS to guarantee that ‘all medical students have jobs when they graduate’.

It comes after Pulse exclusively revealed that a record number of doctors applied for initial allocation GP specialty training places this year but the vast majority face rejection.

GPs and junior doctors have expressed concerns that the Government’s target to increase GP training places in England to 6,000 by 2031 is not at the pace needed and prospective GPs are being turned away.

GP trainers told Pulse that increasing the number of medical students will not help the current crisis in general practice, which has suddenly gone from a recruitment to an employment crisis, driven by the Government’s squeeze on practice finances.

Nottingham GP Dr Irfan Malik, who was a GP trainer for 21 years, said: ‘I don’t think increasing the number of medical students will help the current crisis.

‘It would be better to reduce the haemorrhaging of junior doctors after qualifying, by improving their working terms and conditions.

‘The number of trainers, teachers and placements would need to increase to provide a quality education.’

Dr Sam Adcock, a GP trainer in Leicester, told Pulse that the Government should be looking at ways to ensure doctors get a job in the NHS when they finish medical school.

He said: ‘What they really need to do is look at retention and training in general [beyond medical school].

‘The rationale seems to be that if we add more medical school places, then we will have the right numbers eventually.

‘But they are not focusing on were the problems really lie, which is making sure that people get jobs in the NHS and making sure that the NHS is a good place to work.’

BMA medical students committee chairs Chinelo Nnadi and Shivani Ganesh said: ‘The Government needs to invest in the NHS and continue to guarantee that all medical students will have jobs when they graduate.

‘We will need to see improvements in the way new doctors are allocated their first role within the NHS.

‘This year there are hundreds of graduating medics who still don’t know where their first placement as a doctor will be and may not find out until as little as three weeks before. 

‘When they do start, they’ll be compensated with pay that’s been falling in real terms since 2008 and further bottlenecks in accessing speciality training, leading many to consider whether staying in the NHS is worth it.’

Royal College of Physicians president Dr Sarah Clarke also agreed that more medical students ‘is only part of the answer’.

She said: ‘When they graduate, these students will need jobs. They will need teachers and supervisors and protected time to train.

‘Yet almost a year after the publication of the Long Term Workforce Plan, we still don’t have the detail we need on how and where postgraduate training places will be increased, where the patient demand is, and how the NHS will train and supervise these new doctors.’

Health secretary Victoria Atkins said: ‘Thanks to the Government’s plan for a faster, simpler and fairer healthcare system, the NHS now has record funding and a record number of doctors.

‘I want to make sure that we will have the medical professionals we will need in the years ahead.

‘That’s why we are delivering the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan and doubling the number of medical school places, so we can train the next generation of world-class doctors to offer patients the highest-quality care.’

A major Pulse investigation last year looked at whether the workforce plan could solve any of the NHS longstanding problems. It revealed that the Government would need to double the general practice training capacity in five years, and treble it by 2033 to fulfil its pledges.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

David Church 13 May, 2024 6:01 pm

Not quite sure why the RCP is worrying about training of new doctors: it was they who invented PAs to take the place of doctors, wasn’t it?

Marilyn Monroe 13 May, 2024 7:19 pm

When someone with a slit throat staggers into a&e what do you do first?.. stop the bleeding or arrange a blood transfusion?

Yes Man 14 May, 2024 7:28 am

They think they can bully doctors into accepting terrible jobs with terrible pay in terrible places. No deal mr banker.