Doctors could face more than five years mandatory NHS service under DH plans

Newly-trained doctors could be tied to the NHS for more than five years after graduation under DH proposals that also call for medical schools with greater focus on GP training to be given more places.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt (Photo: Pete Hill)
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt (Photo: Pete Hill)

GPs have been invited to express their views on introducing an army-style minimum term that would tie new medical students to the NHS for up to five years – or potentially even longer – as the government expands undergraduate placements.

The proposals form part of the government’s drive to up the number of ‘home-grown’ doctors by 25% – heralded as ‘the largest single increase in doctor training places in the history of the NHS’ by health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The changes, to be implemented September 2018, will see 1,500 additional places open up in England's medical schools for domestic students, bringing the total available up to over 8,500.

GP training

The government proposes that medical schools that commit to supporting general practice and offering more GP placements should be prioritised to receive a greater allocation of these 1,500 places.

A consultation on the proposals will run until 2 June 2017. It asks whether respondents agree in principle that implementing a minimum number of years of service is ‘a fair mechanism’ for the taxpayer to get a return on the investment made to train the students.

Respondents will also be asked whether they think this minimum term should last for two, three, four, five or more than five years.

It also asks whether they agree that graduates should be required to repay some of the funding if they fail to work in the NHS for the prescribed period.

Mr Hunt said: ‘We want our NHS to be the safest healthcare system in the world, being driven by talented doctors in the future just as it is now.

NHS funding

‘By expanding our supply of home-grown doctors and proposing that they serve patients in the NHS for a minimum term, we will ensure taxpayer investment in the NHS is returned.

‘While we are proud of our workforce, for too long the NHS has relied too heavily upon locum and agency doctors, and superb staff from overseas – all the while budding medics in England are turned away from medical school due to a lack of training places.’

Professor Ian Cumming, chief executive of HEE, said: ‘This major investment in undergraduate places is very welcome. The 25% increase in places is a clear commitment to a sustainable future home-grown medical workforce, making us self-sufficient in doctors for years to come, giving more young people from diverse backgrounds the chance to become a doctor.’

Professor Cumming revealed last week that first-round applications for GP training in 2017 were up almost 5% from the previous year.

Responding to government suggestions that doctors could be forced to serve a minimum term in the NHS when Mr Hunt raised the issue in his 2016 Conservative party conference speech, BMA chair Dr Mark Porter urged the government to tackle the 'root causes' of the NHS workforce crisis, rather than forcing doctors to stay.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Lack of support during the menopause leading female doctors to quit

Lack of support during the menopause leading female doctors to quit

A lack of support during the menopause has led some female doctors to consider reducing...

One in three single-handed GPs at high-risk from COVID-19

One in three single-handed GPs at high-risk from COVID-19

A third of single-handed GPs are at high-risk from COVID-19, which could potentially...

Viewpoint: PCNs can be at the forefront of tackling health inequlities

Viewpoint: PCNs can be at the forefront of tackling health inequlities

Dr Mark Spencer explains how the COVID-19 pandemic helped his primary care network...

GPs expected to exceed 75% flu jab uptake as NHS England reveals campaign details

GPs expected to exceed 75% flu jab uptake as NHS England reveals campaign details

The government has said it expects practices to hit a minimum 75% uptake of flu vaccination...

Red flag symptoms: Heavy menstrual bleeding

Red flag symptoms: Heavy menstrual bleeding

Possible causes of heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) include uterine and ovarian...

Details on how practices can claim COVID-19 support funding announced

Details on how practices can claim COVID-19 support funding announced

NHS England has released details on how practices can claim back additional costs...