Medical student numbers should be cut

THE number of students accepted to medical school should be reduced by two per cent in England, according to a government-commissioned report.

The cut should start with the 2013 intake with the aim of balancing workforce supply and demand from 2025. This will ensure money is not wasted training more doctors than the NHS needs, said health minister Dan Poulter.

The Health and Education National Strategic Exchange (HENSE) was commissioned last year to review whether current levels of medical and dental student intakes were in line with predicted workforce requirements.

Its baseline forecasts estimated that the supply of GPs in England would rise by 29 per cent and that of trained hospital doctors by 64 per cent by 2040. A number of different models were developed to estimate supply and demand for the medical and dental workforce until 2040.

The models suggested demand for GPs would outstrip supply but that hospital doctors supply would exceed demand, unless “rebalancing” from other specialties to general practice occurred.

As a result, the report recommended a two per cent cut in medical student intake “until further decisions to change”.

Melody Redman, the BMA’s medical student lead on education, told BMJ Careers each medical student who could not find a job represented a waste of £250,000 in tax payers’ money.

She said: “More closely aligning the number of medical students with the number of junior doctor posts should be considered as a way of alleviating the pressure on junior doctor recruitment in the long term.”