I’m really pleased to hear the news announced today that the government is making a huge expansion in the NHS medical workforce, with 5 brand new medical schools opening from scratch and many other schools across the country are seeing a significant expansion in training places, including Norwich.
Five brand new medical schools at the University of Sunderland, Edge Hill University, Anglia Ruskin University, University of Lincoln, Universities if Kent and Canterbury Christ Church and Aston University, will open their doors to student doctors starting this September, as part of the biggest ever expansion to the NHS medical workforce, Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced today.
The schools have been chosen as part of a rigorous bidding process to help place more medical students in areas which traditionally struggle to attract doctors, particularly rural and coastal areas – demonstrating the Government’s commitment to addressing regional imbalance across England.
It will mean for the first time, areas like Sunderland, Lincoln and Canterbury will have their own medical schools, delivering benefits not just for the local area but also for NHS patients – as previous studies show that doctors tend to remain in the areas they trained in.
Overall, by 2020 there will be an extra 1,500 students doctors in training. 630 will take up places on medical courses this September, bringing the total intake for 2018/19 to 6,701 - the highest on record.
Ninety per cent of the new places are outside London, with up to a third in the North of England.
The new schools will help to deliver these places, alongside existing medical schools which have demonstrated a commitment to sending more trainees to rural or coastal areas and increasing the number of GPs and mental health specialists.
As part of the ambition to build a fairer society, the Government has also ensured the places have been allocated to medical schools which will work closely with their local communities to help talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds become doctors, widening access to medicine and ensuring the profession reflects the population it serves.
The bidding process for allocating these new places has also allowed the expert panel to prioritise new student places to those areas with a relative shortage of doctors overall, or in certain specialties, and also to widen the social profile of new medical students.
The expansion of medical training places is just one aspect of the Government’s commitment to the NHS workforce, having also announced 5,000 additional nurse training places every year from September 2018 - an increase of 25%; in addition to a draft workforce strategy to help examine and overcome the challenges that the NHS workforce will face.
In Norwich at the University of East Anglia, 41 new places have been created. This shows the Government is investing in the NHS in Norwich. It is a good thing for the NHS in our area to have more medical students being trained at the UEA, and certainly very welcome news for the whole country as we need to support and expand the NHS workforce.