The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges in Wales has examined proposals and considerations for significant interventions to aid medical recruitment, including the recent proposal of a medical school for North Wales. Recognising there remain significant shortfalls in recruitment of doctors to work in Wales, the Academy, which provides a collective voice for most medical royal colleges is keen to support initiatives that will encourage doctors to come and work in the NHS in Wales.
In a statement released today, the Academy identifies there should be more undergraduate medical places in Wales. Noting as well that for potential medical students from North Wales, medical schools in England may currently appeal more than the two South Wales medical schools.
The number of students from Wales applying to study medicine has fallen by 15% in five years – a steeper drop than in the rest of the UK – and north and west Wales have fewer GPs per 10,000 population than the rest of the country.
Chair of the Academy, Dr Paul Myres stated:
“We recognise that many graduates will choose to work near where they trained. We are also aware that not enough school leavers living in Wales are choosing medicine as a career and not enough Welsh speaking students are choosing medicine in Wales. We are pleased both Swansea and Cardiff universities are seriously considering how such students can be encouraged and offered places if they meet the required standards.”
Yesterday the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport dismissed the case for a medical school in North Wales, but acknowledged the need for more medical education to be provided in North Wales
Summarising Dr Myres expressed:
‘The Academy has previously identified that specific provision of medical education in North Wales is needed to attract doctors to work in North Wales. We note that there is already a respected health science centre in Bangor. We would support the concept of a north Wales medical school offering special training and experience in rural medicine but we would not support a medical school solely for Welsh students or mainly focussing on rural care, important though both those factors may be. We do not believe the case has been sufficiently made as yet to support the viability of a medical school in North Wales to provide the breadth of experience medical students need. Furthermore, the standards and experience provided by a North Wales Medical School must be as least as good as other medical school in Wales , the UK or wider.
“Importantly we would support a proposed collaborative approach to medical education and training in north Wales which might be based upon Cardiff, Swansea and Bangor Universities. As a leading medical college voice we must stress the absolute importance of enabling the graduate ultimately to move into any specialty. Obtaining that breadth of experience will require attending centres and clinics outside north Wales which could include North West England (which can be accessed in some cases more easily than Cardiff).”
The Academy also highlights the importance that students learn with colleagues from other cultures and localities and how medical students must be exposed to all sectors of medical care and all should have opportunities for academic study.
Chair of the Academy Dr Paul Myres has further expressed:
“It’s as important to entice Welsh medical students back to Wales as it is to encourage them to learn in Wales. It is equally important to bring non-Welsh, non-Wales graduates to Wales. We know Wales can be a great place to work as a doctor. Let’s ensure doctors choose Wales because it is a great place in which to train work and live.”
On considering other interventions, the Academy position statement highlights an example from the Royal College of General Practitioners:
‘We would also like to see more support for sixth form students in Welsh schools to prepare themselves for medical school applications. The RCGP has organised several meetings for school students informing them about a career in medicine and giving advice about how to submit applications and perform in interviews. Several postgraduate centres provide one week introductory courses and a few centres offer appropriate work experience linked to clinical units.’