Junior doctor Medical student England

Last updated:

Medical students face crisis of morale, conference hears

UK medical students face a crisis of morale that could affect the NHS for years to come, the co-chairs of the BMA medical students committee have warned.

Charlie Bell and Harrison Carter (pictured above, left and right), told the BMA medical students conference last week that issues including bursaries, debt and the imposition of the junior doctors contract were driving away many promising prospective doctors.

They said: ‘Any single one of these issues could at any point derail their nascent careers.

'It is small wonder, then, that we are faced with a crisis in morale of medical students, who are rightly concerned about their futures.

‘We know that many of our medical students, who have come into the profession with a profound and real commitment to the NHS and patients, are now likely to be researching the requirements of foreign national licensing assessments or making plans to work abroad after their foundation doctor 2 years.

‘Other students are looking for job opportunities in entirely different fields in the UK.’


Changing attitudes

This year’s conference comes in the wake of a BMA survey about the attitudes of 15,247 medical students in England.

The survey found that 74 per cent of those responding said they were more likely to start their careers outside the NHS as a result of the Government’s decision to impose a new junior contract.

The committee co-chairs said that, despite these challenges, there had been successes during the past 12 months, including a submission to the GMC consultation on its proposed guidance on professional values and fitness to practise at medical schools.

They also credited the BMA’s publication of The Right Mix — a project aimed at widening participation in medicine.

The co-chairs said the loss of committed doctors before many had even started their careers would be a travesty, and that the health service would struggle to recover from this in the coming years.


'Big difference'

BMA council chair Mark Porter emphasised the important contribution being made by medical students.

He said: ‘In four months’ time, the health secretary wants to impose an unfair and unworkable contract in England.

'Junior doctors are fighting a Government that favours bullying and imposition over constructive negotiation. I don’t need to tell you about the picket lines because many of you have already been there.

'You’re making a big difference in this dispute, and it’s appreciated.’

He added: ‘All doctors and medical students stand on the shoulders of those previous generations who won their fight.

'We can’t allow ourselves to be knocked back on to the ground. This is truly everyone’s fight.’

Find out more about the BMA medical students conference 2016



The story so far

Read more from Tim Tonkin and follow on Twitter.