RCP says extra medical school places not enough to address current workforce gaps

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) welcomes the government's response to its call for extra medical school places as a good start, but warns this will not address major gaps in today’s medical workforce.

RCP president Professor Jane Dacre said:

We welcome the government’s announcement today which responds to the RCP’s 2016 report, Underfunded, underdoctored, overstretched, calling for more medical school places.  But this is no quick fix and will not create new consultants before 2030, as it takes at least 13 years to train a consultant and last year alone half of advertised substantive consultant physician vacancies were unfilled.   

The RCP has long argued that the NHS needs more doctors and this increase in medical school places will relieve some of the pressures faced by the NHS, and support a more sustainable workforce. We also welcome the increase in nursing numbers, the focus on inclusion to open the access to medical school to people from disadvantaged backgrounds and boost trainee places in areas which have had difficulty attracting them. The RCP will do everything it can to support this focus.

More doctors and other healthcare professionals are urgently needed to meet the year-on-year rise in demand for healthcare. This announcement does not tackle today’s pressures – the rota gaps, the bottlenecks in patient access and the troubling situation in social care – all of which are causing significant impacts on the quality of patient care and staff morale.

Staff shortages and rota gaps are the greatest threat to patient safety and we also need to support other increases across the caring professions such as physician associates, mental health professionals, nurses, and in primary and community health services. 

Medicine is brilliant and one of the most rewarding professions. But we must make it accessible, attractive and a role people want to stay and feel respected and valued in.

Notes to editors

If you would like any further information, or to arrange an interview with Professor Dacre, please contact the Care Quality Improvement Department's communications manager, Joanna Morgan: