Home » News/Views » Medical training capped again

Medical training capped again

Now the Covid-19 emergency has eased, the government is back to cutting the number of doctors trained here. Photo Workers.

A month after praising Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital as “amazing” for the treatment his wife had received, Education Secretary James Cleverly attempted to justify his decision to re-impose the cap on medical training places this year. He told the BBC that the courses are “technical and expensive”, given that places are subsidised by government. 

Restrictions on places in England were lifted in 2019 in the face of a severe shortage of NHS doctors and dentists, with a promise to expand the number of places to a limit of 7,500. In the following two years the cap was increased to 10,000. But for this year the 7,500 cap was reimposed, in spite of an ongoing and worsening crisis in doctor supply. 

David Bell, vice chancellor of Sunderland University, reported to The Times that they had received 900 applications for 100 places this year. Many top-quality applicants have been turned away. Overall, 15.6 per cent of students have received offers this year, compared with 20.4 per cent in 2021. Universities which recruit over their quota are penalised by government. 


Cleverly failed to mention that it’s cheaper to recruit ready-trained doctors from overseas, which is the hope of government. Yet a £100 million international recruitment campaign to import up to 3,000 new GPs announced in 2017 had brought in a mere 155 doctors between 2018 and 2021. Just 124 are still practising, according to a Freedom of Information request reported in June this year by Pulse magazine. 

Many British would-be doctors have been driven to apply abroad for training. Around 3,000 are currently training in Bulgaria alone. Yet when they need to complete their internship for one year, these British doctors, who are reported to be keen to return to their home country to practise, find the pathways needed to join the workforce are lacking. 

It seems that successive governments here are reluctant to provide what is really needed – high-quality doctors supplied by our own education system.