The Medical Schools Council (formerly the Council of Heads of Medical Schools) today publishes data that show that the number of clinical academics in medicine in the UK is now 2937, just 83% of 2000 levels.
Clinical academics in medicine are those doctors who not only contribute to the provision of high quality, cutting edge health care but also carry out research and help to educate the doctors of the future. Stemming the decline of this population has been a key challenge for the Medical Schools Council over the past decade.
The data published today show that the decline in numbers has slowed since data collection began in 2000, with an overall fall of just 1% between 2005 and 2006. This small overall decrease, however, masks a 5% fall in numbers at lecturer level.
Professor Sir John Tooke, Chair of the Medical Schools Council, says:
"It is promising that the decline of clinical academics in the UK appears to be slowing. These people are key to improving the health and wealth of the nation and it is essential that bright, talented doctors are encouraged early on in their careers to consider an academic path. In recent years the Medical Schools Council has welcomed a range of initiatives to open up academic career paths in Medicine. It is too early to tell how these initiatives will impact on the overall number of clinical academics in the UK and careful monitoring through the Medical Schools Council annual survey will be important in the coming years."
The publication of the report coincides with a new strategy for the Medical Schools Council, which is reflected in its change of name from today. Formerly the Council of Heads of Medical Schools, the newly-named Medical Schools Council will be focusing on the role of UK Medical Schools in supporting the generation of national health and wealth through undergraduate and postgraduate education, and through research.
To achieve these aims the Council draws on expertise across Medical Schools - deans, admissions tutors, administrators, students - and the change in name reflects this broad contribution. The Medical Schools Council is keen to engage with the public and with key stakeholders to implement this strategy and to openly debate the future role of the doctor.