Written by Alyssa Walker

This year, there were six times as many new medical and dental students from London as there were from the Northeast, as reported by The Guardian

Ucas data shows that last year, 1,585 London students studied for medical and dental degrees, compared to just 245 Northeast students.

All told, about 21 percent of all students studying for a degree came from London, with four percent from the Northeast. 

Why the disparity?  Aside from the obvious population variations with London having three times as many adults than the Northeast, some suggest a lack of opportunities to pursue STEM careers in parts of the north of England. 

Mita Dhullipala, co-chair of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) medical students’ committee, said, “With many areas across the country facing significant NHS staff shortages and many places struggling to attract and retain staff, more must be done to address the current disparities throughout the country in the number of those starting medical courses.”

In response to the disparity, the UK government announced new medical schools to open in Sunderland, Lancashire, Canterbury, Lincoln and Chelmsford, training student doctors starting this September.

Of the move, Dhullipala said, “While the introduction of five new medical schools places, including one in the north-east, will go some way towards improving accessibility to medicine, there is also a need to address the additional obstacles that exist with a focus on widening participation.

“As well as providing the necessary funding and foundation programme training posts to accompany additional medical school places, more must be done to ensure that those with the potential to become a doctor are given the opportunity and support to do so.”

A Department of Health spokesman seconded the move, saying, "Whilst the population in London means there will inevitably be a higher number of medical students, with our biggest-ever expansion to medical training places, 90% of new students will be based outside of London and almost a third in the north of England – supported by five brand new medical schools.

“The expansion also targets applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds to widen access to medicine and ensure even more talented students have the chance to become the NHS doctors of the future.”

Learn more about health careers in the UK. 

 

 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.
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