This briefing provides background to the government’s October 2016 announcement on increasing the number of medical school places in England by up to 1,500, starting from September 2018 | House of Commons Library
The issue: There are concerns that the number of medical school entrants may be insufficient to meet future workforce need. Medical education continues well beyond medical school, and there are also concerns about whether the right numbers of postgraduates are being trained in the right specialties.
The policy response: In October 2016, Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt committed to an extra 1,500 medical school places, beginning in September 2018. In return for the increased number of places, he said that new doctors would be required to work in the NHS for four years. The Government is due to consult on its plans in 2017.
Bodies representing the medical profession have welcomed the move to increase the number of medical school places, but have also argued this will not address current workforce pressures; the new recruits will take at least 10 years to fully qualify as GPs, and longer to qualify as hospital specialists.
Admission to medical school: Entry to medical school is very competitive and institutions typically require very high ‘A’ Level (or equivalent) grades, as well as adequate performance on special medical admissions tests. There have been longstanding concerns that medicine, as a subject, remains particularly skewed toward more socio-economically advantaged entrants, and that latent capacity is being left untapped, despite initiatives to diversify student intakes. This briefing paper relates to England.
Read the full briefing paper here