Student debt is biggest threat to increasing social mobility in medicine

Rising levels of medical student debt could thwart government plans to increase social mobility in medicine, the British Medical Association (BMA) is warning.

Alan Milburn (Photograph: UNP)
Alan Milburn (Photograph: UNP)

Medical student leaders are urging ministers to alleviate soaring debts if they wish to improve social mobility.

Louise McMenemy, a member of the BMA’s medical students committee and lead on widening participation in medicine, said: ‘The spectre of debt hangs over the government’s entire social mobility agenda. At present medical graduates leave university with £21,000 worth of debt on average, a figure that could rise as high as £37,000 in the next few years now that variable top-up fees have been introduced.

‘Talented individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds will either be discouraged or simply unable to pursue a career in medicine because of the spiralling debt burden. This would represent a terrible loss to the NHS and to patients, as well as to the individuals themselves.’

Last week it was revealed that former health secretary Alan Milburn would be advising the government on social mobility issues.

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