Following the publication on 20 October of the Medical Schools Council’s position paper The expansion of medical school numbers in the UK, MSC and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges affirm their joint commitment to the need for a substantial increase in the number of medical student places in the UK.
We are clear that to meet the changing healthcare needs of the population a significant increase in the number of health professionals is required. Achieving a sustainable increase in doctors requires a significant increase in the number of medical graduates.
Whilst doctors recruited from overseas have always been and will continue to be an important and valuable part of the medical workforce there is general agreement that greater reliance on a UK trained medical workforce is the right approach.
We therefore support the call in the report for a substantial increase in medical school places.
We acknowledge that there are significant costs in such a move but believe that it is a sound investment in the future health of the population. It would be unrealistic and probably unmanageable to expect such an increase to happen in one tranche and realistically we would expect a phased increase. However we believe it is both right and realistic to commit to the aim of a significant increase such as is proposed by the MSC with a clear timescale for achieving the ambition.
We acknowledge that various figures have been suggested as being required and these have been the building blocks for work in this area. In 2018 the Royal College of Physicians (RCP London) produced a detailed report calling for a doubling of the number of medical students in its report “Double or quits – calculating how many more medical students we need” and other Colleges including the RC Psych and RCGP have made their projections for the additional number of medical students required to meet the needs of their specialty and more generally. All the projections accept the need for a significant increase in medical student numbers.
We have supported calls for a transparent and inclusive workforce planning process and this would provide the opportunity for refining any projections and hence the specific detail on required numbers. This workforce planning process should draw on the expertise of relevant stakeholders, and both the MSC and the Academy would be happy to provide input.
As the MSC report stresses, it is important that in expanding the number of medical school places there is a corresponding expansion in the breadth of intake into medicine. Work to ensure widened participation must continue with innovative approaches to the recruitment and development of medical students. Initiatives such as apprenticeship medical degrees provide new approaches and new opportunities.
20 October 2021
© 2021 Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.