An additional 500 medical school places have been put into place for next year’s undergraduate entry in an effort to address GP shortages.
Another 1,000 places will be opened across England by means of a bidding process. They will target lower-income students and regions that normally attract few students to medical schools.
The process, announced this week by the Department of Health (DH), will be overseen by the Higher Education Funding Council for England and Health Education England.
Chair of the Royal College of GPs, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, welcomed the plans to take on more trainee doctors, but highlighted that ‘it takes a long time to train a doctor to consultant level – at least 10 years in the case of a GP – and we need more family doctors now’.
She continued: ‘We need to see this expansion of medical school places being implemented in parallel with efforts to attract more of our existing medical students and foundation doctors into general practice, to retain our existing GP workforce, and to make it easier for trained GPs who have left the profession to return to practice.’
Harrison Carter from the British Medical Association also underlined the immediate need to increase physician numbers across England. He said: ‘We require equal focus on retaining existing doctors in high-quality jobs which will provide more immediate relief to an overstretched medical workforce.’