Written by Joanna Hughes

The UK’s medical schools must double the number of spaces available in order to stay ahead of a rising physician shortage and healthcare crisis, says the Royal College of Physicians. Here’s a closer look at the problem, along with why experts say training more doctors is the only solution, as recently reported by The Times.

A Growing Problem

“An aging population with associated multi-morbidity, increasing obesity, the explosion in genomics and new technology will all mean increased demand for doctors,” proposes a report from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).

However, due to a combination of retirements, medical school and training attrition, and a shift toward part-time work, experts say the UK is headed in the opposite direction.

Specifically, hospital activity has risen by 3.6 percent over the past 12 years, and demand is expected to increase by an additional 47 percent between now and 2030. Meeting this need equates to the addition to the workforce of more than 7,000 full-time consultant physicians by 2030.

“If we’re to meet the needs of patients by 2030 from a homegrown source, we really don’t have any choice but to double our medical student numbers because quitting on the workforce issue is not an option,” says RCP president-elect Andrew Goddard.

A Necessary Challenge

While adding the extra places may be a significant endeavor, insiders insist that there’s no other option.

“What choice do we have – do we want to pretend that we can struggle on without a major increase just because that isn’t popular with the Treasury? Pretend that artificial intelligence will really make our jobs redundant? Pretend that somehow the population will magically become healthier despite all the evidence to the contrary including cuts to public health services and a lack of political vision to enact healthy legislation?” adds current RCP president, Professor Dame Jane Dacre.

Meanwhile, rising medical school enrollments in the US have some worried about residency placements. Read more here.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.
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