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Continue the increase in the number of students in medical training

Last updated: 11:08am 20 June 2019

Last year we announced an increase in the number of students in medical training of 1,500 a year; we will continue this investment, doing something the NHS has never done before, and train the doctors our hospitals and surgeries need.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.66

Our verdict

The NHS needs more medical staff to face current and future challenges. According to a study by the Royal College of Physicians, in 2017-18 a whopping 45% of medical consultant vacancies went unfilled. Understaffing contributes to variations in quality of care. Rural areas are particularly vulnerable, with children sometimes having to travel hundreds of miles to access mental healthcare, and hospital patients, especially older people, often facing poor outcomes. Ongoing and future challenges include an ageing population and changes in morbidity trends.

Following a pledge made at the 2016 Conservative Party conference, the government announced funding for 1500 new places in undergraduate medical schools. This policy is a promise to “continue” that investment.

After a consultation, in August 2017 the government promised to deliver 500 posts that year, and the remaining 1000 by 2019-20.  As part of that pledge, in March 2018, the Health Secretary announced the opening of five new medical schools in rural areas, namely Sunderland, Lancashire, Canterbury, Lincoln and Chelmsford.

With five new medical schools opening, the government is clearly continuing its investment plan to increase the number of medical students, so this policy is ‘done’. We’ll keep tracking to see if the 1500 target is reached, so follow this policy to stay informed.

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