1,000 extra doctors needed

December 5, 1997

BRITAIN needs to train 1,000 extra doctors every year to keep pace with changing health needs and working patterns, a new report claims.

The Medical Workforce Standing Advisory Committee this week recommended a 20 per cent increase in trainee doctors to keep pace with demand and avoid further reliance on non-United Kingdom-trained doctors who already constitute a quarter of NHS medics, a proportion that is rising.

But the government said it would wait until after the comprehensive spending review before deciding whether to follow the recommendations.

Among its proposals, the committee, chaired by Nottingham University vice chancellor Sir Colin Campbell, says the majority of the 1,000 extra medical students should follow the normal pattern of undergraduate medical education. But it recommends developing new, shorter medical courses for graduates of other disciplines.

The committee says that it received evidence that it was more cost-effective to train extra doctors in existing medical schools than building new ones. The committee estimates the additional cost could be up to Pounds 200 million a year.

Announcing the report, health minister Alan Milburn said many of the committee's recommendations echoed the government's thinking. "The recommendation on increased medical school intake has very significant implications, and will need careful consideration," he said.

Medics, page 8

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