Jeremy Hunt’s commitment of around £100m to increase annual medical training numbers by 25 per cent is a keenly political move. He is fresh from the battlefield with the British Medical Association, and needs to make an impact in a post-Brexit referendum world.
It should be seen as a significant commitment – a quarter is a substantial increase, and a decision to make such an investment at this time of austerity cannot be underestimated.
And the NHS does need more doctors: evidence from medical royal colleges has shown rota gaps are a real and present problem facing many wards and specialties, while demand for healthcare continues to grow rapidly.
However, under closer scrutiny it is clear that this NHS workforce intervention, like many before it, is defined more by magical thinking and guesswork than by exact science – and it ignores the more pressing crisis in nursing.
The health secretary says increasing doctors in training by 1,500 is aimed at making the NHS self-sufficient. Even if these numbers turn out to be sufficient, which is questionable, it will not be until 2023-4 when these additional students would start graduating – and even then it will take a further eight to 10 years for them to complete full training and fill gaps at every level. Be sure to mark your calendar for 2030 so you remember to celebrate.
Full story in the HSJ 4 October 2016