The government has confirmed 500 additional medical school places for next year to help with shortages.
This is the first step in the Department of Health plan announced October 2016, which targeted 1,500 additional student places each year by 2020, a 25% increase on the current numbers of around 6,000 medicine graduates each year.
The expansion of doctor training is planned to improve the current staffing shortages, but the BMA (British Medical Association) has pointed out that it will not help the immediate problem. The course will take at least 5 years, so the earliest this cohort will graduate will be 2023, but then there is further training and development following graduation.
Harrison Carter from the BMA said:
“The students who will benefit from these new placements will take at least 10 years to train and become senior doctors so we mustn’t forget this promise won’t tackle the immediate shortage of doctors in the NHS which could become more acute following Brexit.
“As such, we require equal focus on retaining existing doctors in high-quality jobs which will provide more immediate relief to an overstretched medical workforce.”
The plans to increase home-grown doctors are timely as there are concerns that the impact of Brexit and a global shortage of doctors could make it harder to recruit as many in the future. Around 1 in every 4 doctors working in the NHS did not train in the UK. There is also a retention issue, as some UK-trained doctors choose to leave the country to work elsewhere.
This news will be welcomed by those GP practices that are struggling to recruit and retain doctors, but it will take time before it impacts on the workplace and contributes to improving patient choice and quality of care.
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