The Dean's blog

Expansion of the Medical workforce – how and why Leeds must help - January 2018

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SoM - Dean Photo

For those of you undertaking clinical attachments it will come as no surprise to hear that the NHS needs more doctors. Indeed many of us were saying so as far back as 2012 when the government bizarrely cut medical student numbers by 2%.

The increase in demand across the NHS had already begun in 2010 and has increased by approximately 10% per annum since, generating 2.4 million more A&E visits, 5.9M more diagnostic tests and 820,000 more GP referrals for Cancer suspected as having Cancer. This together with the changing demographics of our population – increased life expectancy but with multiple morbidities and cognitive decline – has led the WHO to conclude that we will need to train an additional 2.3M doctors globally by 2030.

The UK trains approximately 7800 new doctors every year; in March 2017 plans were announced to increase this by an additional 1500 through new places to England Medical Schools. In fact the 1500 comprises a reversal of the 2012 cuts (Leeds will take an additional 20 students in 2018 as a result) with the remaining 1000 places or so allocated through an open competitive process across existing Medical Schools in England but also new Medical Schools (e.g. Aston, University Central Lancashire, Anglia Ruskin) providing they are developed sufficiently to take students from 2019.

So why should Leeds take more students? Population wise, behind London and Birmingham, Leeds is England’s third city, Bradford its 6th biggest; the scale and simplicity of our partnership model with NHS partners across Leeds and West Yorkshire provides a terrific exposure to large patient populations of diverse socio-economic and ethnic mix. Yet currently we are a “medium-size” School with Cardiff, Imperial, King’s College, Newcastle, Queen Mary (London), Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, UCL all training more doctors than us. This impacts on the local/ Regional workforce; although we take great pride in training a National/International workforce, we know that many students stay locally in Leeds/ West Yorkshire on qualification, but our failure to train doctors based on population need leaves significant gaps in training posts across Yorkshire to the detriment of our patients (Figures 1, 2).  A major driver for the new places will be to attract more students from underrepresented parts of society; Leeds already excels in its widening participation programmes and will do more with local communities offering opportunities for anyone who has the ability and desire to be a doctor irrespective of their background.

Figure 1 - deans blog

Figure 2 - deans blog

An increase in our intake will also offer new opportunities to enhance your experience.  New changes to the curriculum offering students leadership and entrepreneurship are proposed together with an increase in primary care/ community placements. Additional funding will provide us with the headroom to finalise the upgrade to the Worsley building focussing on a state of the art student environment on level 7, enhanced clinical skills facilities and in partnership with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, much needed upgrade to student facilities on the St James Campus.

We will continue to watch this space carefully as it does bring some threats. The narrative is certainly influenced by Brexit with a repeated emphasis on training “home grown students”; as a global University we value our International student community and need to work hard to ensure that their experience is in no way compromised. We will also ensure we continue to embed innovation in all we do – simply training more of the same – implied in a desire to deliver more GP’s - will do little to meet the demands of tomorrow’s NHS.

In submitting our application we have actively engaged our students since March 2017 with student input on all our planning subcommittees and through my regular 1:1 meetings with leadership of MSRC or MedSoc. As outlined above the process is a competitive one; our understanding is that just over 30 English Medical Schools have applied in total for over 2000 places; we will communicate with you further as soon as we hear the outcome expected in March 2018.

Paul Stewart

Pages in this document

  1. Expansion of the Medical workforce – how and why Leeds must help - January 2018
  2. To all our 5th years - a big thank you and a bigger request!
  3. Antimicrobial resistance – action needed now
  4. Brexit …. “primum non nocere” - March 2016
  5. What do I do when I qualify? General Practice, Generalism and Specialism - December 2015
  6. Coping with change - October 2015
  7. Exams, Drones and Hannah’s sweets - June 2015
  8. The added joys of life @ Leeds Medical School - March 2015
  9. The Year of the Sheep - February 2015
  10. Urgent message from the Dean - January 2015
  11. Turing, War of the Worlds and Christmas! - December 2014
  12. A face-lift for Worsley – the home of the Medical & Dental Schools at The University of Leeds - October 2014
  13. Graduation and Student to Alumnus – we wont forget each other - July 2014
  14. Historical nuggets - June 2014
  15. Inaugural Lecture Series - March 2014
  16. Apples, Jobs and Private Medical Schools - February 2014
  17. Home for Christmas? - December 2013
  18. Greenaway, Lifestyle and the Ashes - November 2013
  19. Leeds and Leadership, October 2013
  20. Welcome from the Dean