The number of medical school places is set to expanded as the Government announces it will fund an additional 205 starting in 2024, accelerating a commitment in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan published in June.
Antony Higginbotham MP who has previously raised the training of doctors at Burnley’s UCLan complex has welcomed the announcement. Commenting he said:
For over a year now I've been calling for additional medical student places for UCLan. Because I've seen their amazing medical training facilities at Victoria Mill, I've spoken to them about how much more they can do, and we all know we need more doctors and consultants. That's how we tackle the backlog, make sure everyone has access to the right healthcare at the right time, and set the NHS up for the future long-term.
So I'm really pleased that the Government has agreed, and provided UCLan with more funded places for medical students. That means more locally trained doctors, using the expanding UCLan Burnley campus and their partnership with East Lancashire Hospitals, and better NHS services for residents.
Whilst these doctors will take time to train, it's only by taking decisions now that we can ensure the NHS has what it needs in the future.
This latest announcement builds on expansions the government has already funded. Between 2018 and 2020, the number of medical school places in England has increased by 25% increase – and as part of this process five new medical schools have been opened across the country.
The Office for Students has now begun the process of allocating these additional places, which includes the University of Central Lancashire and Edge Hill medical schools. The location of these schools will help ensure medical school places are available where they are most needed, including training much-needed additional doctors for the North West.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:
We’re turbocharging our plans to boost the number of people studying medicine at university which will lead to more doctors staffing our hospitals in the future.
By setting the wheels in motion to begin delivering on the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan already, we can continue making progress cutting waiting lists and getting patients the care they need even faster.
This comes in advance of the larger expansion across the country from 2025 onwards that will deliver the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan commitment to double medical school places by 2030/31. The Office for Students will now consult on the best approach to expand and allocate places from 2025 onwards.
Speaking earlier this year, and before the latest announcement, UCLan's Vice Chancellor Graham Baldwin said:
The University of Central Lancashire has the capacity and expertise to train more doctors to work in Lancashire and the wider North West and we have the demand to address the widely reported shortages in the workforce should we be given the additional places by the Government.
We receive approximately 50 applications per medical place from students based in the North West who ultimately want to contribute to medical care and reduce health inequality in the region. This demand reflects that we ranked top for medicine in the North West in the 2021 Guardian University Guide.
More numbers would enable us to further our work with our NHS partners which includes significant collaboration with the hospitals in East Lancashire. The University is part of the solution to addressing shortages of doctors and healthcare workers and improving patient care.