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NHS plans to expand student places for ‘home grown’ doctors from disadvantaged backgrounds

A new NHS plan to create more medical school places, confirmed to start next year, will target students from disadvantaged backgrounds to make the medical workforce more diverse, the Government has said.

The Department of Health announced in October it will fund up to an extra 1,500 medical training places in England a year by 2020 – boosting the current number of doctors graduating each year by 25 per cent. NHS England said the extra training places means 7,500 “home-grown” doctors should graduate each year. The Government wants the extra places to target underrepresented social groups such as lower income students.

Health minister Philip Dunne has also confirmed plans to fund 10,000 additional training places for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals. ‘Home grown doctors’ Plans to increase the medical training programme were announced by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt last October. Mr Hunt has previously said that expanding the medical workforce will help ensure the health service can cope with caring for a growing and ageing population. About a quarter of doctors working in the NHS did their training outside of Britain, according to the BBC. The Government hopes the move will ease staffing pressures and reduce the amount spent on expensive agency and locum doctors. Will not solve immediate shortage of doctors The announcement has been cautiously welcomed by the British Medical Association (BMA), who warned it would not solve an immediate shortage of NHS doctors. The BMA said the students will take at least 10 years to train and become senior doctors. BMA medical students committee co-chairman Harrison Carter said: “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.   Schools to bid for extra places Under the plan, medical schools will be able to bid for extra course places, with those proving they target poorer students or those covering coastal/rural locations and other regions which tend to attract fewer trainee medics prioritised. The Government hopes the additional places will also help to address shortages of medics in coastal and rural locations as well as fill gaps in the fields of psychiatry and general practice. Mr Dunne said: “We are committed to giving more talented students the chance to be part of our world-class NHS workforce. “Not only is this the biggest ever expansion to the number of doctor training places, but it’s also one of the most inclusive; ensuring everyone has the chance to study medicine regardless of their background, and ensuring the NHS is equipped for the future with doctors serving in the areas that need them the most.” 45,000 students apply for 23,000 nurse training places The Department of Health said 45,000 students have applied for 23,000 nurse training places this year and historically thousands have been rejected despite having the required grades. Mr Dunne added: “For too long, a cap on training places has meant thousands of talented students are rejected from university courses each year despite meeting requirements for medicine or nursing. “These students will now be able to fulfil their potential as our future NHS nurses, midwives and allied health professionals.” Additional reporting by the Press Association

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By: i Team 20 hours Wednesday August 9th 2017