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Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is to launch five new medical schools in the United Kingdom

It has been reported that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is set to launch five new medical schools in the United Kingdom as part of its bid to counteract ...

Catherine Sturman
|Mar 22|magazine8 min read

It has been reported that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is set to launch five new medical schools in the United Kingdom as part of its bid to counteract shortages in a number of areas across the country.

The schools will be established in universities in Sunderland, Canterbury (linking with the University of Kent), Lincoln (in partnership with the University of Nottingham), Lancashire and Chelmsford (at Anglia Ruskin University), and will enable the development of over a thousand new doctors to these selected regions, in a government pledge to attract and retain talent in rural areas.

Over 500 new places are set to commence this September at Anglia Ruskin University, with the rest phased in over 2019 and 2020, the BBC has revealed.

The number of trained GPs in the United Kingdom have reduced dramatically over the last 10 years. With increased pressures and present shortages, in addition to the impact of Brexit, it is unknown how the healthcare sector will cope with a rising departure of European professionals, particularly across a number of specialist areas.

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Professor Ian Cumming, Chief executive of Health Education England, said: "1,500 new medical students starting by 2020 demonstrates real commitment to ensuring that we have the number of doctors we need for the NHS in the future.”

In a statement, Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said: "Setting up five new medical schools is part of the biggest ever expansion of our medical and nursing workforce, which we will need to deal with the challenge of around one million more over 75s in a decade's time.

"These schools are being set up in parts of the country where it is can be hard to recruit and attract new doctors – but it will benefit the doctors everywhere as we start to eliminate the rota gaps that add so much pressure to their work."

However, Harrison Carter, co-chair of the British Medical Association's (BMA's) medical students' committee, has responded by stating: "We welcome any initiative to help increase the numbers of doctors we have. However, the students who will benefit from these new placements will take at least 10 years to train and become senior doctors so this measure won’t tackle the immediate shortage of doctors in the NHS which could become more acute following Brexit.

"There needs to be equal focus on retaining existing doctors in high-quality jobs which will provide more immediate relief to an overstretched medical workforce, as well as plugging current gaps through highly skilled migration to ensure patients continue to receive high quality care."