NHS in England to be ‘self-sufficient for doctors by 2025’, says Hunt

4 Oct 16

The health secretary Jeremy Hunt has promised that the NHS in England will be self-sufficient in terms of doctors by 2025, under plans to prepare the health service for the impact of Brexit.

Hunt announced that the number of places for medical students will increase by as much as a quarter for the 2018 academic year, which could see 1,500 more medical students.

In future years, the cap on the number of places that medical schools offer could be lifted, Hunt indicated. It is currently set at just over 6,000 a year. Only around half of those who apply to study medicine are currently able to do so, but the health secretary said he wanted all domestic students with the skills and capability to train as a doctor to be able to.

In response, the government would require those trained as doctors on the NHS to work in the health service for a minimum of four years after graduation.

Hunt will tell the Conservative party conference today that these steps are needed to prepare the NHS for the future.

“Currently, a quarter of our doctors come from overseas. They do a fantastic job and we have been clear that we want EU nationals who are already here to be able to stay post-Brexit. But is it right to import doctors from poorer countries that need them while turning away bright home graduates desperate to study medicine?

“From September 2018, we will train up to 1,500 more doctors every year, increasing the number of medical school places by up to a quarter. Of course it will take a number of years before those doctors qualify, but by the end of the next parliament, we will make the NHS self-sufficient in doctors.”

The costs of the expansion will fall to the Department of Health and Department for Education, with the DoH meeting the cost of clinical placements and the DfE responsible for the student loan and associated costs. Initial estimates suggest costs should be limited to around £100 million over this Spending Review period.

Commenting on Hunt’s announcement, NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer said: “Employers will welcome this significant investment to boost the number of training places for doctors.  This should help address the challenges we face in filling rotas in many areas and support the longer term transformation of our services.

“Mr Hunt quite rightly acknowledges the vital contribution EU staff make to the health and social care sectors.  We look forward to greater certainty for these hugely valued colleagues.”

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