NHS England update on medical school training places, 28 February letter to Royal College of Physicians

To: Dr Sarah Clarke, Royal College of Physicians. Sent by email.
cc: Dr Jeanette Dickson, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. Sent by email.

Dear Sarah,

Thank you for your letter of 27 February following the weekend’s media coverage about the allocation and expansion of medical school places, and the delivery of NHS Long Term Workforce Plan (NHS LTWP) commitments.

We can assure you that NHS England remains committed to the delivery of the NHS LTWP and our ambition to double the number of medical school training places remains on track. This will take the total number to 10,000 by 2028/29, and then 15,000 places a year by 2031/32.

We are currently ahead of plan on our initial milestone to increase medical training places from an intake of 7,500 in September 2023 to 8,200 places by September 2025, as set out on p129 of the LTWP.

In September 2023, a total of 7,571 medical school places were funded for students, 71 higher than originally planned. Since then, the Government has confirmed funding for an extra 205 places in September 2024, an additional 350 places by September 2025, as well as up to 200 medical apprenticeship places. Therefore, the overall position for September 2025 is now expected to be up to 8,326 medical school places, which would be higher than the original LTWP planned trajectory.

The Department of Health and Social Care has also issued a statement this week to confirm its commitment to the NHS LTWP and the doubling of medical school training places by 2031/32.

The NHS LTWP is built on extensive engagement and support from health and education partners across the country and its delivery is the most important piece of partnership working in the history of the NHS. NHS England is responsible for the delivery of the plan, and the implementation of the expansion and reform of medical training across the NHS.

Our initial focus on delivery is through the expansion of existing medical schools and establishment of new ones, and the introduction of medical degree apprenticeships. However the NHS LTWP also clearly sets out the need for an incremental increase in medical training places over multiple years – from 2025 to 2031/32.

The continued support and commitment of health and education partners remains fundamental to doubling the number of medical school training places by 2031/32. Our shared ambition for this expansion will require close working with the Royal Colleges and your members, together with medical schools, higher education institutes and the further education sector, the regulator and healthcare stakeholders.

We remain firmly committed to this plan, and we thank you all for the crucial role you are continuing to play in its successful delivery.

Professor Sir Steve Powis FRCP, National Medical Director, NHS England.
Dr Navina Evans CBE MRCPsych, Chief Workforce, Training and Education Officer, NHS England.