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NHS Hot Topics 2017-18

If you’ve started your interview preparation, you’ll know that NHS hot topics are a key part of a medical school interview. So it’s important that you know your news!

This page will recap a couple of key medical hot topics for 2017-18. This is by no means exhaustive, just a selection of big news stories in medicine this year, from the impact of Brexit on healthcare to the Charlie Gard case.

For an idea of how to approach NHS hot topics in an interview, visit the NHS Hot Topics section of our Interview Question Bank.

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NHS Hot Topics 2017-18: The Impact of Brexit

In a nutshell:

How Brexit may affect UK healthcare is one of the key NHS hot topics of 2017-18. It would have been pretty difficult to avoid hearing about Brexit over the past year – so it’s likely you already know a lot about it already! However, to briefly recap: on 20th February 2016, the then Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the British public would vote to decide whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union.

On 24th June 2016, Britain declared it would be leaving the EU. With the exit process still underway, it will be years until we can quantify the full effect of Cameron’s referendum, but for the medical profession, financial, staffing, and research concerns are set to continue for a very long time.

How might Brexit impact healthcare?

Cash injections

Staffing crisis

Scientific research

NHS Hot Topics: What I might be asked about Brexit?

NHS Hot Topics 2017-18: Charlie Gard Case

In a nutshell:

This is another one of the key NHS hot topics of this year. Charlie Gard was born on 4th August 2016. After a month, his parents noticed that he was struggling to support himself. He was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital – and in November 2016, doctors identified his condition as infantile onset encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDS). This caused Charlie severe organ failure and he survived for 11 months with the support of a ventilator.

What treatment was offered to Charlie Gard?

What were the legal issues surrounding the Charlie Gard case?

What were the ethical issues surrounding the Charlie Gard case?


Distributive justice (the expected benefit is insufficient to justify the public resources used)

Best interests

NHS Hot Topics: What might I be asked about the Charlie Gard case?

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NHS Hot Topics 2017-18: 7 Day NHS

In a nutshell:

You will have read a lot in the news about the seven day NHS. A study found that a patient is 15% more likely to die if they are admitted on the weekend than if they are admitted mid-week. The government wants to prevent these deaths by ensuring that weekend services are available at the same standard as weekday services.

What are the issues with the 7 Day NHS?

What will happen next?

NHS Hot Topics: What might I be asked about the 7 Day NHS?

NHS Hot Topics 2017-18: Junior Doctors’ Contract

In a nutshell:

You will have already read a lot about the junior doctors’ contract in the news over the past year. The controversy began in 2013, and has divided both the public and the media. The Department of Health introduced the contract with the intended aim of making pay fairer, and the end goal of spreading both emergency and elective services across seven days of the week.

What is the new junior doctors’ contract?


The government is changing the contracts following recommendations made by the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration. They have set out six criteria that will guide their recommendations:

  1. Improving patient care
  2. Maintaining respect and trust for consultants and junior doctors as leaders and professionals
  3. Credibility and practicality of local implementation
  4. Appropriate remuneration to recruit, retain and motivate
  5. To help facilitate constructive, continuing relationships
  6. Affordability

Pay and hours

The system of pay and hours will also be overhauled in the new contract. There are now four points of nodal pay along the training cycle.

Level of ResponsibilityNodal Point
Foundation Year 1Nodal Point 1
Foundation Year 2Nodal Point 2
Specialty/Core Training 1, 2, 3Nodal Point 3
Speciality/Core Training 4,5,6,7,8Nodal Point 4

The time-served concept is abandoned, and the basic pay packet is now linked only to the level of responsibility held. Basic pay itself has increased by 10-11% but is now determined by on-call and weekend allowances, with no banding system in place.

Depending on how many weekends a doctor works, and their nodal level, they are awarded an extra percentage of their allowance – for example, junior doctors who work one in every two weekends will get an additional 10% of their basic pay, whilst those who only work one in eight weekends will get 3%. On-call allowances follow a similar concept, where extra pay is based on the nodal point.

What are the issues with the new contract?

What are the consequences of the new contract?

NHS Hot Topics: What might I be asked about the junior doctors’ contract?

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NHS Hot Topics 2017-18: Mental Health Services

In a nutshell:

Mental health services in England currently deal with a range of conditions, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders and psychosis. One in three people experience mental health problems while in employment – and recently the NHS has worked to increase much-needed funding for mental health services.

What are the challenges facing mental health services?

What is being done to improve mental health services?

NHS Hot Topics: What I might be asked about mental health services?

Looking for More NHS Hot Topics?

We’ve started a blog series on 2017-18 medical hot topics. You can read more below:

Learn More  


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