UNIVERSITIES have joined a frantic bidding exercise for 1,000 extra medical students with no guarantees that the students or funding will ever materialise.
They are drawing up detailed proposals in an attempt to cash in on the hoped-for increase in trainee doctors although many of them do not even have medical schools. This follows last December's recommendation by the Medical Workforce Standing Advisory Committee that the United Kingdom needs to train 1,000 extra doctors a year to prevent over-reliance on overseas doctors and to cope with an ageing population and changes in work patterns.
The government is waiting until the comprehensive spending review before responding but with such an expansion set to cost up to Pounds 200 million a year, plus capital costs, there is considerable doubt that the Department of Health will back it. The higher education funding councils' deadline for estimated costings of medical expansion is a month away.