In the same announcement Mr Dobson said medical and dental students would have to pay tuition fees for the first four years of their degrees, but that in the fifth, and where appropriate sixth, years the DOH would meet these, as well as providing means-tested bursaries.
The decision was welcomed by many medics. But doctors are now concerned that by moving responsibility in the fifth year for fees and bursaries to the DOH from the Department for Education and Employment, responsibility for training doctors may be shifting.
Peter Dangerfield, a member of the medical academic staff committee at the British Medical Association, said that with more than 4,800 medics a year, this could amount to a transfer of many millions annually.
"Nobody knows what the DOH is really doing," he said. "Is this the first indication of the health service clawing education from the universities?" Steve Tomlinson, secretary of the Council of Heads of University Medical Schools and dean of faculty of medicine, dentistry and nursing at Manchester University, said that "people are expressing anxiety" that once such a transfer of financial responsibility had taken place, more could follow.