U-turn on medical school expansion shows up Government's "hollow words," says BMA

by BMA media team

BMA press release.

Location: England
Published: Sunday 25 February 2024

Responding to a letter to medical school and university heads which indicates the Government is reversing its medical school places expansion, Professor Phil Banfield, chair of BMA council, said:

“It is abundantly clear that we have a Government who refuses to fund the training for the doctors of tomorrow and who also refuse to pay fairly the ones we have today; this is no way to solve the ever increasing workforce crisis the NHS is facing.

“The Government’s long term workforce plan gave a commitment to double medical school places to 15,000 per year by 2031/32, something  the BMA has been campaigning on for several years. However, the plan lacked an implementation strategy beyond the immediate first steps and the existing teaching facilities and staffing infrastructure cannot support such an expansion as it currently stands. This letter shows that those plans, as weak as they may have been, were in fact just hollow words from this Government, and we’re not really surprised by this at all. Not only are they now reneging on their commitment to the expansion, as this letter makes clear, there will also be no new capital funding for medical schools who do want to accept even a handful more students.

“With this revelation coming in the same week as the Government tries to force through potentially dangerous legislation in the House of Lords which makes it far harder for patients to tell the difference between doctors and those without a medical degree, it’s hard to see how this government intends to keep doctors in this country.

"There is currently a huge medical workforce crisis  - around 10,000 doctor vacancies in England alone. It is time for the Government to stop the dithering and offer credible pay offers that begin to restore and recognise the value of doctors’ unique skills and expertise - or go down in history as the government that let the NHS fail, when it had the means in its power to avoid it."

ENDS

Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

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