Expansion of medical school places to be accelerated to next year

Government will expand medical school places a year early, with 205 additional places for the new academic year in 2024, subject to consultation

  • This follows the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan which will deliver the biggest training expansion in NHS history
  • Places offered to five medical schools – including three new ones – to help ensure medical school places are available where they are most needed

Students will be able to apply to new medical school places a year early as the government today (Tuesday 3 October) announced it will fund 205 additional places for students starting in 2024, accelerating a commitment in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan published in June.

The Office for Students has begun the process of allocating these places and has offered places to new medical schools at Worcester Three Counties, Brunel and Chester, which do not currently have any publicly funded medical places, as well as offering more places to the University of Central Lancashire and Edge Hill medical schools. The location of these schools will help ensure medical school places are available where they are most needed, including training much-needed additional doctors for the North West.

This comes in advance of the larger expansion across the country from 2025 onwards that will deliver the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan commitment to double medical school places by 2030 to 31.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:

"We’re turbocharging our plans to boost the number of people studying medicine at university which will lead to more doctors staffing our hospitals in the future.

"By setting the wheels in motion to begin delivering on the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan already, we can continue making progress cutting waiting lists and getting patients the care they need even faster."

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said:

"Medicine is a hugely popular course and we’re bringing forward funding for additional medical places in areas of the most need, helping to create a future talent pipeline for the NHS.

"This will support the workforce in tackling key challenges and providing critical care for the public, by training the next generation of doctors a year earlier than planned."

The first ever NHS Long Term Workforce Plan was commissioned by the government to set out a series of interventions to train, retain and reform the workforce and put the NHS on a sustainable footing into the future. Backed by more than £2.4 billion in government investment, it sets out how the NHS will address existing vacancies and meet the challenges of a growing and aging population by recruiting and retaining hundreds of thousands more staff over the next 15 years and reforming the way they work.

As part of the plan, the government and NHS England will also work closely with medical schools and the GMC to move from five to four year undergraduate degree programmes and will pilot a medical internship programme for newly qualified doctors. This will shorten undergraduate training time and bring newly qualified doctors into the NHS workforce better prepared to deliver patient care.

This builds on expansions the government has already funded. Between 2018 and 2020, the government increased the number of medical school places in England from 6,000 to 7,500 – a 25% increase – and as part of this process opened five new medical schools across the country.

Professor David Green CBE, DL the Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Worcester said:

"We are delighted by the decision to allocate an initial 50 funded places for medical students from September 2024 to the Three Counties Medical School at the University of Worcester. In the years to come this will make such a positive difference to the people of the Three Counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire together with the Black Country borough of Dudley and Halesowen, all of whom live in such ‘under-doctored’ areas of the country. We would like to thank NHS England and all in Government and Parliament who have contributed to this most positive decision."

Department of Health and Social Care
The Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP