Government must create foundation training places for 1500 new medical students, says BMA

Authors: Abi Rimmer 

Publication date:  04 Dec 2017

The government must ensure that there are enough foundation training places to accommodate 1500 new medical students, the BMA has said.

In 2016 the health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that an extra 1500 doctors would be trained in England from September 2018.[1]

So far, 500 new medical school places have been allocated to existing medical schools. Universities were able to bid for the remaining 1000 places in a process which closed on 23 November. However, the government has not made any commitment to increase the number of foundation training places available to medical graduates in line with the increase in medical school places.

Sarah Hallett, deputy chair of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, said that despite current undersubscription in the foundation programme, places needed to be increased to accommodate the rise in graduates.

“The foundation programme is currently slightly undersubscribed. This year the UK Foundation Programme Office said that, while there will be around 143 applicants placed on the reserve list in March 2018, there will be around 242 vacancies at the start of the programme because there is usually a withdrawal rate of around 7%,” she told The BMJ.

“However, there needs to be over 1000 new places for when these students are coming out of medical school.”

Hallett added, “On the surface, the announcement of 1500 new medical students per year should be a cause for celebration, but there has not yet been any associated commitment for funding or any more foundation places.”

Hallett said that the government needed to ensure that the funding would be in place to give the additional students the post graduate training they needed. “We know trainers are already struggling with their workloads, and these new trainees will need mentorship, training, and facilities,” she said.

Last month, Hunt announced that the NHS would have a draft workforce plan by the end of this year for the first time since 2000.[2] Hallett said she hoped that the plan would explain how the postgraduate training of the additional medical students would be provided.

“We very much hope that the government is going to outline how they are planning on tackling this problem,” she said. “If it’s not contained in the workforce plan, then we are going to be asking them to provide further announcements on what they are planning to do about this issue.”

The BMJ approached the Department of Health for a comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.


  1. Torjesen I. Hunt aims for fully home grown doctor workforce. BMJ 2016;355:i5399. [Link]
  2. Rimmer A. NHS will have workforce plan for first time in 17 years, Hunt announces. BMJ 2017;359:j5188. [Link]

Abi Rimmer The BMJ

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