Fears for impact on NHS workforce as leaked letter reveals ministers stall on aim to increase trainee doctors to 15,000 by 2031
Ministers have dramatically stalled plans to double the number of doctors being trained in England by 2031 in a move that has caused dismay across the NHS, as well in medical schools and universities, the Observer can reveal.
In June last year, ministers backed a long-term plan to expand the NHS workforce and pledged, amid great fanfare, to “double medical school places by 2031 from 7,500 today to 15,000, with more medical school places in areas with the greatest shortages to level up training and help address geographic inequity”. Labour is also committed to raising the number of doctors to 15,000 by 2031.
But a leaked letter written jointly by health minister Andrew Stephenson and the minister for skills, apprenticeships and higher education, Robert Halfon, to the independent regulator the Office for Students, says they will fund only 350 additional places for trainee doctors in 2025-26. This is less than a quarter of the annual number widely anticipated and there is no guarantee that even that level of resource will be repeated.
Sunak’s pledge to bring down the NHS waiting lists wasn’t an off-hand pledge, an off-the-cuff remark, or a long-term policy proposal
Dr Julia Patterson is Chief Executive of EveryDoctor, a doctor-led campaign organisation fighting to save the NHS
We’ve been hearing Rishi Sunak blaming the length of the NHS waiting lists on striking NHS staff for many months now. Despite recent analysis from The Health Foundation which showed that industrial action from consultants and junior doctors had only contributed to 3% of the overall size of the waiting list, he has repeated his rhetoric again and again.
Several days ago, Sunak admitted for the first time (to Piers Morgan during an interview) that he had failed his pledge to bring down the NHS waiting lists. This received a huge amount of attention in the national media, and for good reason. Sunak’s pledge to bring down the NHS waiting lists wasn’t an off-hand pledge, an off-the-cuff remark, or a long-term policy proposal. It was one of the 5 key pledges he made as Prime Minister in January 2023, and it was made in the midst of the worst NHS winter crisis that we have ever experienced.
Several days before Sunak’s pledge was made, Dr Adrian Boyle (president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine) had publicly stated that up to 500 people could be dying each week because of their inability to access urgent care within the NHS. The situation was incredibly stark. I run the organisation EveryDoctor (www.everydoctor.org.uk) and we were hearing from both NHS staff and patients who were experiencing terrifying situations. Patients were calling for ambulances which simply never arrived. GPs were driving emergency patients to hospital in their own cars, because they had no other option. When patients arrived at A and E departments, they were met often with chaos. Beds had been removed from A and E cubicles to make way for 6 patients to sit on chairs. Patients were receiving life-saving treatment in non-clinical areas, in corridors, even on the floor, as staff held up sheets to try to preserve their dignity.
Former Green Party leader says Labour’s support is needed for chance of defeating DHSC move to push ‘associate’ roles that look like doctors but don’t have medical training
Green peer and former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has heeded the calls of doctors – and independent MP Claudia Webbe, the only MP to speak against the government’s backdoor legislation when it was pushed through – to stop the government’s dangerous new move to have ‘physician associates’ (PAs) and ‘anaesthetist associates’ (AAs) regulated by the General Medical Council (GMC), despite them not having medical training.
90% of doctors believe this move puts patients at risk and at least two patients have died after PAs, who the patients thought were doctors, dismissed serious medical conditions as a muscle strain and a panic attack respectively.
Inequitable distribution of income has severe consequences.
The Post Office scandal has once again exposed the shortcomings of performance related pay for company directors. The company had remuneration committees staffed by hand-picked obedient non-executive directors. None opposed the rewards accruing from wrongful prosecution of more than 900 subpostmasters and dutifully rewarded directors. Paula Vennells, chief executive from 2012-2019 picked up bonuses of £2.2m for wrecking lives.
Performance related pay has boosted the remuneration of directors even when performance is negative, as exemplified by the 2007-08 financial crash, collapse of Carillion, BHS, London Capital and Finance, Patisserie Valerie, Debenhams and others.
The bottom line is a key feature of most performance related remuneration schemes. The median tenure of a FTSE100 CEO is about 3.75 years and temptation is to grab higher pay in the shortest possible time. Profits can be boosted by depressing wages, dodging taxes, postponing repair and maintenance; cutting investment and spending on innovation; and by using novel accounting practices. Directors are rewarded for such tactics as shareholders chase short-term returns. Little attention is paid to the long-term damage and social cohesion.
Workers invest their brain, brawn and life in companies but have become just another disposable commodity. In the words of former US President Abraham Lincoln: “Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
Inequitable distribution of income has severe consequences. Millions struggle to have access to good food, housing, education, pension and other essentials. Inequalities are a threat to democracy as the rich are able to control media, buy lobbyists and fund political parties to advance their interests, to the exclusion of the vast majority of the people.
“I have never been more upset and disappointed in our current government”
“I think a ceasefire is crucial,” one audience member said, adding: “What I also think is crucial is that the UK government is held to account for their role in licensing arms to Israel at the moment.” Her contribution was met with applause from the rest of the audience.
Another member of the audience echoed her comments, saying: “I have never been more upset and disappointed in our current government, with how they have dealt with the situation.”
He then went on to say: “Whether it’s the Conservative Party, and even the Labour Party – it’s an absolute disgrace. How many lives need to be lost? We have been 25-30,000 Gazan lives, people who have done nothing wrong. I completely echo what you say. Israel do have a right to defend themselves – absolute. But at the risk – not at the risk – the death, murder of 25-30,000 people who have done nothing wrong, I can’t understand this.”
Four years on after Britain left the European Union, a damning new poll shows just how disillusioned the public are with Brexit, with the majority believing it to be a failure.
The poll, carried out by Ipsos for the Evening Standard, found that 57% believe Brexit has been more of a failure than success, while only 13% say that it has been a success.
Younger adults, Londoners, and graduates are more likely to say that Brexit has been a failure.
A breakdown of the survey results showed that 70% of 18 to 34-year-olds think Brexit has been more of a failure, as do 64% of 35-54s, compared to 38% of those aged 65+.
Many of the promises made by Brexiteers have failed to materialise, including grater control of borders, free trade deals with America and of course who could forget the promise to invest £350 million more a week into the NHS after Brexit.
RISHI SUNAK came under blistering attack today after falsely claiming that nurses had “reached a resolution” on their pay dispute.
The Prime Minster made his false claim on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, forgetting that a 5 per cent pay rise was forced on them last year.
Nurses’ union the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) exposed the falsehood and reminded Mr Sunak that he “never reached a pay resolution with nursing staff in the NHS — our members rejected his pay offer and we remain in dispute.”
RCN general secretary and chief executive Pat Cullen accused the PM of “forgetting basic facts.”
She said: “The government needs to get its act together — it must offer nursing staff a far better pay offer this year.
“Just this week, nursing staff in Northern Ireland announced they will be taking to picket lines over pay.”
Victim of repeated smears and even a discredited prosecution is planning a bid at the next Ilford North parliamentary election, say locals
Syed Siddiqi, the former Labour member repeatedly abused, harassed and smeared by right-wing Labour figures in Ilford in north London, is planning to stand against right-winger Wes Streeting in the next Ilford North parliamentary election, according to local sources.
In 2018, Streeting also launched a ‘disgraceful’ and ‘disgusting’ tirade in the face of Diane Abbott, Britain’s first Black woman MP, leaving Abbott ‘shell-shocked’. If he stands, Syed Siddiqi can expect considerable support from outraged former Labour supporters around the country who would be delighted to see Streeting ejected.
NURSES have “unwavering” public support for further strike action in their continuing dispute with the government over pay, staffing and working conditions, a survey revealed today.
The YouGov poll revealed that the public would support nurses withdrawing their labour next year over staffing levels (73 per cent), pay (66 per cent) and threats to patient safety caused by nurse shortages (85 per cent).
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which commissioned the poll, said it remained in dispute over NHS nurses’ pay in England after the government imposed a pay settlement.
It warned that nurses could strike again in the run-up to next year’s general election.
RCN chief nurse Professor Nicola Ranger said: “When politicians start canvassing voters and knocking on doors, nursing staff could again be standing on picket lines, fighting for fair pay and safe staffing levels.
NURSES were left infuriated today after the government made an improved pay offer for hospital consultants in England.
The Department of Health and Social Care said that it had reached an agreement with the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) after a month of talks and more than six months of strikes.
Union members will now vote on the deal which offers the majority of consultants an additional uplift of up to 12.8 per cent from next January — more than double the minimum of 6 per cent in 2023/24 as a result of the previously implemented pay award — although it won’t be paid until April.
BMA consultants committee chair Dr Vishal Sharma said: “It is a huge shame that it has needed consultants to take industrial action to get the government to this point when we called for talks many months ago.”