NHS needs to double the number of medical students to avoid collapse

Posted on April 2019 By Aaron Liffen

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Leading UK doctors have said this week that the NHS need to double the number of medical students in training to avoid collapse. With surging obesity and an “explosion” in genomic medicine listed as the reasons behind the statement, the future of the NHS looks bleak if the recruitment numbers remain the same.

In an analysis carried out by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), the national health service will require at least 7,120 extra hospital doctors by 2030 in order to come with the predicted 47% rise in demand and In order to meet the extra demand by then healthcare leaders would nee to take steps towards doubling the number of those entering medical school.  

While at present approximately 220 consultants retiring each year, this number is expected to increase closer to 700 within 12 years unaided by the forecasted doubling of those leaving the profession before retirement.  The RCP state that high workload, low morale and post Brexit impacts will fuel the trend towards leaving the profession. 

Addressing the RCP’s annual conference on Monday, the body’s president, Dr Andrew Goddard, stated: “‘If we’re to meet the needs of patients by 2030 from a home-grown source we really don’t have any choice but to double our medical student numbers because. Quitting on the workforce issue is not an option.”

At present the drop-out rate of medical students is around 5 per cent, meanwhile an estimated 10 per cent of junior doctors quit or go abroad before they enter specialist training to become consultants or GPs, according to the report.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are absolutely committed to ensuring the NHS has the staff it needs to meet increasing patient demand both now and in the future”. Supporting this comes the announcement of a 25 per cent increase in training places for doctors, nurses and midwives, with a number of measures in place to retain and attract NHS staff such as ‘Homes for Nurses scheme’ and the recent pay rise for over 1 million NHS staff.