‘Army-style’ training proposal will not redress recruitment crisis, says BMA

Proposals to train more doctors – and tie them to the NHS for more than four years after graduation – will reduce staff numbers and could worsen the health service’s recruitment crisis.

That is the message from doctors leaders after the Department of Health outlined plans to introduce an ‘army-style’ minimum term for new medical students working in the NHS.

It comes as part of health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s plans to increase the number of ‘home-grown’ doctors working in the NHS by 25 per cent – a move the Government claims could make the health service self-sufficient.

But doctors leaders said the proposals showed the Government’s workforce planning is ‘poor’ and has left the NHS in ‘desperate need of more doctors’.

Harrison Carter, BMA medical students committee co-chair, said: ‘While extra medical school places are welcome, these proposals do not address the underlying issues that are affecting the NHS’s ability to recruit and retain staff.

‘We are already seeing at each stage of the training process, that fewer people are choosing to apply to or remain in the NHS as doctors with a poor uptake of places in many specialty training programmes, and a decline in applications to medical school, which these proposals would only worsen.

‘The Government has argued that these plans mirror the system already in place for medical students in the armed forces, but has failed to acknowledge the £10,000 a year bursary and £45,000 lump sum that students receive in recognition of their commitment to the military.

‘Rather than forcing doctors to work in a health service in which they can see no future, the Government must urgently address the reasons why, after years of training to become doctors, fewer people are choosing to apply to or remain in the NHS.’

Full story from the BMA, 15 March 2017