The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has proposed plans to increase the number of junior doctor training posts by 25%. In numbers, that is an increase from 6,000 to 7,500 doctors. The expansion plans aim to decrease the dependence on overseas doctors by 2025.
Gaining entry into medical school is tough but if there are more places available, this may reduce the ratio of applicants:offers. I truly believe, that this will allow many more suitably qualified students to gain entry to the medical school they desire. Every year, many students are rejected – not because they are not competent enough, but due to the lack of places. The plans also include widening access to medicine to those from poorer economic backgrounds. This means that those who may have previously not been considering studying medicine due to finances or other barriers, can now be more confident in securing a place.
The plans also come with some less positive news! Jeremy hunt will also put forward penalties for those junior doctors who then leave the UK to move overseas. With these new rules, you must work for the NHS for four years before moving overseas where you may be looking for a higher pay, better hours or a change in lifestyle. By working for 4 years for the NHS, medics will be repaying part of the huge £220,000 cost to the taxpayer for their training! This ‘return of service’ model is used in other fields too – for example, fighter pilots must serve 12 years after completing their training which has a price tag of around £4million.
The president of the Royal College of Physicians, Professor Jane Dacre, has reacted positively to the news and believes that not only are the plans ‘sustainable’, but they will contribute to reducing ‘the pressures faced by the NHS in the long term’. The chairperson of the British Medical Association, Dr Mark Porter, was less pleased; stating that the effect of the proposed plans will only show after a decade once the doctors are trained and working! For now he believes that the NHS will need to continue recruiting overseas doctors to tackle the current staff shortages. He also believes that the proposed increase is not enough especially with the government plans for seven-day services.
– Aksa Ali