2nd March 2023
The Times has reported that a new NHS workforce plan, expected to be published soon, will call for the number of Medical School places to double by the end of the decade.

The plan will also reportedly call for adult nursing places to double in the same timeframe, and additionally for thousands of new doctors to be trained on the job as apprentices.

These significant changes are being proposed by the NHS due to chronic staff shortages which are only predicted to worsen in the coming years.

The NHS currently has a vacancy rate of 10 per cent (equating to around 133,000 posts vacant) – and according to The Times, this shortage could quadruple over the next 15 years as the population ages.

Last year, £3 billion was spent on bringing in agency staff to fill the gaps and cover shifts. This figure was up 20 per cent from the year before.


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The UK currently has 7,500 Medical School places per year. If the NHS workforce plan becomes a reality, the number of UK Medical School places will double to 15,000 per year by 2030.

It is believed that six new Medical Schools could be needed to accommodate this higher number of medical students.

In addition to doubling the number of Medical School places, the plan is also expected to propose a new apprenticeship route into Medicine. This would involve doctors spending five years training on the job before qualifying, as opposed to spending five years studying a medical degree at university.

One in eight new doctors could qualify this way by the end of the decade, and we will share more information on this potential new pathway to Medicine (entry criteria etc) when it becomes available.

The NHS workforce plan has not been published yet, but it is expected in March 2023. For the proposals to be implemented, significant investment would be required from the Treasury – so there could be a battle ahead.

If they come into effect, the changes would be good news for aspiring medics.

The number of people applying to study Medicine has reached a record high in recent years, so competition is more fierce than ever before. An increase in Medical School places would give more applicants the opportunity to fulfil their ambition of becoming doctors.

Get a step-by-step guide to applying for Medical School here.


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