Medicine for the rich

March 24, 1995

Medical student leaders have warned that medicine will be for "rich kids" only, following the Government's refusal to recognise their particular financial problems.

Sandy Macara, council chairman of the British Medical Association has been seeking a meeting with Government about medical students' funding, but ministers have refused to discuss the issue. The BMA is now writing to MPs and peers of all parties.

The BMA's medical students committee has highlighted special financial difficulties which do not affect students in other disciplines. Medical students have longer courses and shorter vacations in which to earn money. They have to buy medical equipment, and more expensive textbooks than most other students, and have to spend more on travel and on respectable clothes when working on wards.

But the committee says that despite this, medical students are assessed in the same way as other students for a maintenance grant, and are only entitled to borrow the same amount as others from the Student Loans Company.

Committee chairman Rupert Gauntlet said: "We are bitterly disappointed with the Government's response. There is a real danger that we will return to the days when medicine was the exclusive preserve of people from a financially secure background.

"That situation would be bad for doctors and bad for patients. Doctors need to be recruited from the widest possible base, not merely from the most well-off groups in society."

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