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Government defends medical student number cap

Questions are being asked why the government is sticking to its cap on medical and dentistry places.

A shortage of doctors and other medical staff has been described as the biggest challenge facing the NHS. But the number of places at UK medical schools are capped - in England this year there are 7,500 places.

England's Education Secretary James Cleverly told the BBC that you can't just "flick a switch" to increase the capacity to train more doctors.

Medicine is one of a handful of courses where numbers are limited by the government, because the cost is heavily subsidised.

In 2020 and 2021 the government lifted the cap on numbers, which last year led to more than 10,000 places being accepted. But this year the cap in England is being reintroduced.

Mr Cleverly told the BBC that the nature of highly technical, vocational courses like medicine meant increasing the number of places was far from straightforward.

"To increase those numbers you would also need to increase the capacity in training institutions, both in universities and in hospitals.

"It is not something you can just flick a switch and significantly increase the capacity to train.

"The increases have got to be funded, they are technical and expensive courses and we need to understand the balance of requirements between these courses and other courses that the government is supporting financially."

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Source: BBC News, 18 August 2022


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