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Medical schools lose 200 students a year amid money and mental health problems

Two thirds of medical students have faced financial or mental health pressures, says a report.

The Royal Medical Benevolent Fund research suggests that medical schools are losing 200 students a year due to these pressures.

The figures on the number of medical students withdrawing in the last five years were obtained through Freedom of Information requests to every university with a medical school in the UK.

Twenty-two universities responded to the request, reporting 771 withdrawals. When the RMBF extrapolated the average withdrawal rate to the universities who did not respond, it takes the UK-wide figure to well over 1,000.

The medical charity is calling for greater support for future doctors has launched a new campaign.

The research suggests that 60% of medical students have experienced financial pressures while undertaking their degree.

Furthermore, more than two thirds (68%) of medical students have experienced mental health pressure while undertaking their degree.

Figures from the Freedom of Information request also indicate that on average 36 students per year withdraw during their final two years of study in the UK.

With the cost of training a single doctor now estimated at £220,000, even a small reduction in the number of students who are lost to medicine in their final years would save millions of pounds and help tackle future UK doctor shortages.

In 2016, the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt pledged to train 1,500 extra doctors by 2020 to make the UK “self-sufficient in doctors” after Brexit.

Given the critical shortages facing the healthcare workforce and the future health needs of the population, every medical student forced to withdraw unnecessarily from their degree represents a loss that is far more serious than just the cost of their training.

Professor Dame Parveen Kumar, President of the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund, said: “Our medical students matter to this country and to future patients so it is vital that we give them the help they need to succeed.

“These are people who we and our children will depend on in future, and supporting them is one of the best investments we can make.”

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