The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow has called on the Scottish Government to remove the current cap on medical school places in Scotland following the recent announcement of Higher and Advance Higher exam results.
In a letter to John Swinney MSP, the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, the College said that such a move would not only be the right thing to do for those pupils in Scotland who have now received their final Higher Grade results, but would also make a positive contribution towards addressing the significant workforce crisis that the NHS continues to face.
Publishing the letter, College President Professor Jackie Taylor said:
“Last week the Department for Education lifted the cap on medical school places in England to accommodate the growing demand for places following this year’s exam results. Today we’re calling on the Scottish Government to follow suit.
“Removing the cap on places for Scottish-domiciled students in our in medical schools would be the right thing to do for pupils who recently received their revised Higher Grade and Advanced Higher results, but it would also be a shot in the arm for the NHS. We know that current workforce shortages in the NHS will only be compounded by a further lack of capacity in the system caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why we need to start training larger numbers of doctors, surgeons and other health professionals here in Scotland to cope with demand. With this in mind, removing the cap on medical school places this year will be a good step in the right direction, and one our membership wholeheartedly supports.”
The full text of the letter sent today to John Swinney MSP is as follows:
John Swinney MSP
Deputy First Minister
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
St. Andrew’s House
Tuesday 25th August 2020
Dear Deputy First Minister,
Increasing Medical School Places in Scotland
As you will be aware, last week the Department for Education lifted the cap on medical school places in England following the confirmation of A-level results.
We believe that it would be in the best interests of students, universities and the wider medical profession for the cap on places at Scotland’s medical schools to be lifted for the coming academic year.
Lifting the cap on medical school places for this year is not only the right thing to do for those pupils in Scotland who have now received their final Higher Grade results, but will make a positive contribution towards addressing the significant workforce crisis that the NHS continues to face. We must train more doctors here in Scotland if we are to close the current gaps in the current workforce. We also agree with those who have raised concerns over the past week that without making this change here in Scotland we run the risk of losing some of our brightest and best students to medical schools in other parts of the UK, and in turn to the Scottish NHS. It is, therefore, in the long-term interests of the NHS in Scotland to lift the cap now.
We understand that lifting this limit may not be straightforward and may present some additional challenges to overcome, in particular in ensuring sufficient capacity within the NHS to support additional medical students throughout their studies, and in increasing the capacity of our medical schools themselves. Over the past few months the Scottish NHS has clearly demonstrated that it is able to adapt quickly to change. This has been especially true where there is an urgent need which has political support, and so we believe that with a combined effort this obstacle can be surmounted to the benefit of all stakeholders. Our College and our membership in Scotland would be keen to play our part in delivering a solution if required.
I look forward to receiving your response.
Professor Jackie Taylor