More medical school places is no cure-all for the UK’s shortage of doctors

Posted: February 14th 2022


This is a really thoughtful letter about the challenge of increasing workforce skills from a rural practitioner. It tells us:

Prof Rachel Jenkins’ letter (9 February) advocates for the expansion of medical school places in the UK, and this should indeed be a priority to preserve the medical workforce of the future. But since 2010, medical student numbers have increased by 31% – with only a 0.4% increase in positions for the clinical academics who train them.

Besides university staff and infrastructure, medical students require the support of junior doctors in their workplace-based placements. But this is impossible to provide, with increasing numbers of students on the wards coupled with the pressure on service provision. As a doctor in her first year of practice, I am dismayed to have to turn students away, but I am aware that they often do not have the support on the ward to achieve their curriculum outcomes.

We do medical students, junior doctors, medical academics and ultimately patients a disservice when we use medical student places, and the funding for them, as the only measure of the quantity of high-quality medical education that is able to be delivered in the UK.