IF BRITAIN is to become self-sufficient in doctors up to 50 per cent more medics may have to be trained annually.
Stephen Tomlinson, dean of Manchester University medical school and secretary of the Council of Deans of Medical Schools, said: "There are rumours, related particularly to the problems with filling training and consultant posts and clinical academic posts, that if the United Kingdom is aiming towards self sufficiency in doctors by 2020, then a minimum of two new medical schools' worth of graduates are needed. Some say up to six new medical schools' worth will be required each year."
This compares with the planned 10 per cent expansion in medical students by 2000.
Sir Colin Campbell, vice chancellor of Nottingham University and chairman of the Medical Workforce Standing Advisory Committee which advises NHS policy, says the group believes Britain should be self-sufficient. Yet two-fifths of new doctors registering here are from overseas.
Six more medical schools of graduates would mean an additional 1,800 new doctors annually. About 3,840 doctors graduate from British medical schools each year.
Professor Tomlinson added that there was debate within the profession as to how such increased numbers could best be accommodated.
Teaching-only and single specialism medical schools are both being suggested, he said, as possible ways of coping.
This week the Medical Workforce Standing Advisory Committee, which is reevaluating the country's need for new doctors, took evidence from the Council of Deans and the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals. The committee is due to report back by the end of the year.