TRAINEE doctors from less wealthy backgrounds should be given priority access to work experience opportunities.
The recommendation has been made by a group working for the Medical Schools Council with the aim of increasing diversity in the profession. The Selecting for Excellence Group (SEEG) was set up last March to ensure the best candidates were able to become doctors, despite their social background.
Under the plans, NHS trusts and other health bodies offering work experience to potential medical students would be asked to prioritise applications from less wealthy applicants. The organisations would sign up to a set of principles confirming their commitment to broadening access.
The scheme, named PRACTISE, is similar to a scheme operated within the legal profession (known as PRIME) which seeks to improve social diversity amongst trainees. It will initially be launched in NHS trusts across the UK, aimed at secondary school pupils who are interested in entering the medical profession.
Longer term, it will be rolled out to other healthcare providers such as GP surgeries and care homes. It’s hoped 100 organisations will sign up by 2015, with work being done to ensure the quality of placements.
The scheme will target students in receipt of free school meals and those from schools where at least 30 per cent of pupils are eligible for free school meals.
Organisations taking part in the programme will be expected to advertise all their work experience opportunities openly, offer financial help to applicants, and support the development of personal skills and behaviours required to work in healthcare. The scheme will also be evaluated within six months.