Blue skies and rosy prospects

February 14, 1997

What does tertiary education do for London? Not a lot, says one report. In another of our series of regional focuses, THES reporters look for a sense of community within the M25 area.

LONDON is a medical powerhouse attracting more postgraduate students, research funds and associated industries than anywhere else in the country, a new report claims.

The report, commissioned by the deans of the medical schools of the University of London for submission to the King's Fund London Commission, which is to report later this year on health care in the capital, paints a positive picture of pioneering research rubbing shoulders with significantly lower mortality rates than elsewhere in the country.

But it also highlights the lower A-level grades required of medical students in London and their relatively high drop-out rates at the clinical stage of courses.

The report was compiled by Brian Jarman, professor of primary health care and general practice at Imperial College School of Medicine at St Mary's. The report says that London medical schools employ 13,000 people and attract a large concentration of pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies to the Southeast. And private patients, particularly from overseas, bring substantial revenue.

There is a net inflow of patients into the capital, says the report, which Dr Jarman believes means that fundholders, despite the higher costs of care in London, are still choosing to send patients into hospitals in the capital.

The report cites the popularity of London medical courses and the diverse nature of the undergraduates they attract. It highlights the ability of London medical schools to attract more students from the ethnic minorites than schools elsewhere and its very extensive postgraduate and research opportunities.

This research investment and strong academic disciplines within hospitals appears to bring benefits in terms of secondary care to the capital. Inner London teaching hospitals have significantly lower standardised mortality rates for certain common acute medical conditions than other hospitals in the country. The report also cites the dearth of UK-born black doctors.

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