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More reaction to the government’s commitment to increase med school places

Prof Derek Bell, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

“This College welcomes plans to increase the number of medical school places in England to help address the future sustainability problems facing the NHS.

“However, this will take several years to have any impact and will require much more than training places alone; we need to create a culture in the NHS where the workforce feels valued and has the time to care for patients. Creating capacity in a pressurised NHS  for doctors to train and be trained both at undergraduate and postgraduate level is critical if increasing the numbers of medical school places is to work.

“We need to ensure that pursuing a career in medicine in the NHS is an attractive choice so that we attract – and retain – the best possible talent.

“There is also a far more urgent need to address workforce planning issues. Recent statistics have shown that gaps in rotas are having an impact on patient care so we need to look at what we can do now to address vacancies in the system.

“The UK Government must secure the long-term future of the NHS for the safety of patients in the UK by taking action now and listening to concerns being raised by the medical profession.”

Dr Taj Hassan, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine

“Medical student expansion is a helpful step in the right direction but will not have an effect at all in the short or medium term. Any meaningful impact will be at least 10 – 12 years away once these training programmes deliver fully trained physicians.

“Noting also the sanctions planned on doctors leaving the UK, I feel this is starting from the wrong place. The key to keeping doctors in the country is to create the right training environment for them. They need to be well supported and feel valued so that they can deliver on their talents. There is much more to do in this area. Working in under-staffed, under-resourced, overcrowded units does not create this environment. The right environment for doctors and nurses in our Emergency Departments is also the right one for our patients.

“With the emergency care system at crisis point, this long term solution will do nothing to have any beneficial effect on the immediate crippling shortages of doctors in the UK. More urgent action is needed to address the short term challenges to give time for longer term solutions, such as this one, to deliver.”

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