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Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Six times as many London students starting health degress than North East

Written by Alison Kershaw and Ian Jones

More than six times as many students from London took up places to study medicine and dentistry last year, compared to those from north-east England, Press Association analysis shows.

The figures come amid a push by government and the profession to expand the workforce, including a move to open new medical schools.

The Press Association analysis of Ucas data shows that 245 students from the North East took up places to study for medicine and dentistry degrees last year, compared to 1,585 from London.

It means that more than six times as many students from the capital were accepted on to these courses than their peers from north-east England.

These were the regions accounting for the highest and lowest proportion of acceptances for the subject area.

In comparison, across all subject areas, five times as many students from London than the North East took up places on any degree course.

Part of the difference can be explained by variations in population - there are around three times as many adults in London than in the North East.

Mita Dhullipala, co-chair of the British Medical Association's (BMA) medical students' committee, said: "With many areas across the country facing significant NHS staff shortages and many places struggling to attract and retain staff, more must be done to address the current disparities throughout the country in the number of those starting medical courses."

In March, Jeremy Hunt announced that new medical schools are to open in Sunderland, Lancashire, Canterbury, Lincoln and Chelmsford, training student doctors from this September.

The move was part of a package of measures aimed at bringing more medics to areas which traditionally struggle to attract doctors.

Previous research has shown that doctors tend to remain in the areas they trained in.

The government has also announced plans for an extra 1,500 student doctors to be in training by 2020, with 6,701 medical students in total due to start their training this September.

Ms Dhullipala said: "While the introduction of five new medical schools places, including one in the North East, will go some way towards improving accessibility to medicine, there is also a need to address the additional obstacles that exist with a focus on widening participation.

"As well as providing the necessary funding and foundation programme training posts to accompany additional medical school places, more must be done to ensure that those with the potential to become a doctor are given the opportunity and support to do so."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "Whilst the population in London means there will inevitably be a higher number of medical students, with our biggest-ever expansion to medical training places, 90% of new students will be based outside of London and almost a third in the north of England - supported by five brand new medical schools.

"The expansion also targets applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds to widen access to medicine and ensure even more talented students have the chance to become the NHS doctors of the future."

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