The scrapping of maintenance grants for students may result in a dearth of GPs and clinical academics, a leading doctor has warned, writes Julia Hinde.
Steve Tomlinson, executive secretary of the Council of Heads of University Medical Schools, fears the introduction of fees and the replacement of grants with loans will deter those from poorer backgrounds from entering medicine.
"I personally have real concerns that access to these longer courses such as medicine is going to be reduced because young people will be deterred from taking on that debt," he said.
It still remains unclear whether the Government will charge tuition fees for all five or six years of a medical degree. But maintenance loans alone will be a deterrent to those from poorer backgrounds, warns Professor Tomlinson, dean of Manchester University Medical School.
He says areas likely to suffer are the so-called Cinderella specialities including general practice, geriatrics and clinical academia.
Council representatives are now hoping to meet representatives from the departments of health and education to clarify the situation for medical degrees.
A spokesman for the Department for Education and Employment said the Government was considering the need for appropriate measures such as bursaries for students entering some health and social care professional courses.