Health Professions

BMA calls for long-term support for any removal of medical student cap

By - Integrated Care Journal
BMA calls for long-term support for any removal of medical student cap

Comments by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock surrounding the Government's intention to lift the current cap on medical school places have been met by calls for 'funding and long-term support' by the British Medical Association.

Responding to the comments, Dr Helena McKeown, BMA lead for education, training and workforce, said: “The BMA has long-campaigned for widening participation in medicine so that all those with the ability and desire to become doctors are given the opportunity to do so. ” 

Dr McKeown went on to say: “The medical workforce needs to be far more reflective of the diverse patient population it serves, and following the U-turn by Government earlier this week, we have urged medical schools to review the applications of those who were earlier denied places due to the unfair grading process. ”

Dr McKeown explained that “the UK is vastly short of doctors” and therefore “increasing the number of medics in training makes sense. ”

The BMA has also written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson urging him for clarity on how the A-levels U-turn will impact medical education and the long-term workforce.

Dr David Strain, the BMA medical academic staff committee co-chair, said: “For universities, student fees alone do not cover the cost of teaching doctors of the future. With falls in other streams of income since the Covid-19 pandemic, such as charitable research grants, medical schools find themselves under extreme financial pressure, leading to calls for voluntary redundancies and early retirement of clinical teaching staff. ”

Dr Strain emphasised the need for "assurances" that lifting any lift to the cap will be matched with resources to help universities employ the necessary academic staff and ensure quality and safety is maintained.

Whilst Dr Strain believes that an influx of new doctors is positive, he goes on to say that “we also need to address the decline in senior clinical academics" in the long-term. This, he suggests, can be achieved by increasing support for training and ensuring parity is maintained.

In conclusion, Dr McKeown insisted that change “must be followed up with support and funding for both the universities sector and the NHS further down the line. ” 

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