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Thursday 21st June 2018

Medical school access is not widening

16th December 2009

The British Medical Association says that government attempts to widen access to the medical profession are failing.


A BMA report focusing on the period 2003 to 2008 found that over that time, the number of medical school students from low-income backgrounds had risen by only 1.7%.

Despite lower income groups making up just under half of the population in the UK, only one in seven successful applicants came from that sector of society.

However, more applicants are coming from ethnic minorities and the BMA also found that women made up 56% of all accepted applicants to UK medical schools in 2008.

Professor Bhupinder Sandhu, chair of the BMA's equal opportunity committee, said: "Medical schools are still not recruiting enough students from low-income backgrounds. A combination of complex problems lies at the heart of this failure.”

Debts faced by medical students – estimated to be on average £37,000 for a five-year medical degree – could be a factor along with low aspiration within education at school level.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA's head of science and ethics, called for a review of how to address failings in the school system.

The government has invested £392m to widen access and says that further reforms in this area are planned.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "We have undertaken a review of NHS student support and are currently consulting on a proposal to widen eligibility for NHS funding to pre-registration medical and dental students from poorer socio-economic groups.”

The Medical Schools Council also has initiatives aimed at improving access.


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