GPC Scotland chairman takes post as government boosts student support

Dr Alan McDevitt has officially taken up the role of GPC Scotland chairman from today, as the Scottish government announced extra support for poorer students.

Dr Alan McDevitt: GPC Scotland chairman
Dr Alan McDevitt: GPC Scotland chairman

Clydebank GP Dr McDevitt took over as chairman of GPC Scotland after the previous chairman, Dr Dean Marshall, was voted in as a negotiator on the UK GPC.

The Scottish government has announced that, from next autumn, poorer students will receive a minimum income of £7,250. BMA Scotland said this would help diversify the medical workforce.

When elected in June, Dr McDevitt said it would be a privilege to lead the GPC at such a challenging time.

He said: ‘With falling budgets and rising demand, it is a difficult financial climate for all parts of the NHS. However, I want to build on the strengths of Scottish general practice and to work with the government to ensure that GPs have a real say in the development of healthcare policy, both locally and nationally.’

The chairman of the BMA Scotland's medical students committee, Mark McInerney, welcomes the Scottish government's student  funding announcement.

He said: ‘We believe that the medical workforce should be representative of Scotland's diverse population, however, current evidence shows that we are far from achieving this aim.

'If students from the lowest income households are to be encouraged into higher education, then it needs to be affordable and the support available must ensure students can meet their day to day living costs. This is why BMA Scotland supports a minimum income guarantee policy.’

From next autumn, the Scottish government has pledged an annual minimum income of £7,250, through a combination of bursaries and loans, for students with a family income of less than £17,000. It said that all students, irrespective of circumstance, would be eligible for a student loan of £4,500 a year. Part-time students with a personal income of less than £25,000 will also receive full support for tuition fees as a proportion of the full-time fee equivalent.

Dr McInerney said: ‘We are also encouraged that the Scottish government plans to move fifth-year medical and dental students onto the mainstream support package. This means that the poorest medical students, who have been disadvantaged under current arrangements, will now be treated more fairly and will have access to more student support when required.

‘Entry to medical school should be based on the ability and aptitude of the student and not on the size of their family's bank balance. It would be unforgivable if patients and the NHS lost out on the skills of gifted young people from low and middle income families because they were not able to support themselves through university.’

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