medical schools council


Medical schools and ever improved patient care


The Medical Schools Council would like to congratulate the new government and Secretary State for Health. The most pressing issue to be resolved is NHS reform. Addressing the challenges facing our health system will require collaboration and medical schools are keen to work closely with the government to find lasting solutions. Here, we lay out our key areas of focus.

  1. Medical schools are a critical contributor to the growth of the UK economy.

35% of all research funding to UK universities is for clinical medicine. The benefits of this investment are well known: patients can access cutting edge treatments and the UK is able to play a leading role in response to unprecedented health crises, as seen with the rapid development of therapies during the pandemic. Economically, the potential for growth is vast: for every £1 invested in medical research, society benefits by ~25p per year, every year, in perpetuity[1][2]. Medical schools are unique in bridging the gap between NHS and industry partners. For each patient recruited into commercial clinical research studies, NHS Trusts in England received an average more than £9000 from life sciences companies, as well as a pharmaceutical cost saving of between £4,143 and £7,483[3]. Strategic investment in medical research has the potential to improve patient care, save the NHS money and drive greater economic growth for the nation.

  1. The number of clinical academics is declining. We must work together to maintain this pipeline of educators and scientists.

The doctors who undertake research and teaching alongside their clinical work are called clinical academics but their numbers are declining. This needs to be reversed in order to achieve an ever stronger life sciences sector and any expansion in medical education. To support the growth of clinical academia there needs to be fast and flexible research training for clinical researchers, visible leadership and mentorship from established researchers and pay parity with NHS colleagues.

  1. The Long Term Workforce Plan is an opportunity to address longstanding workforce issues. Medical schools remain committed to expanding medical training places.

The NHS is in desperate need of doctors and the workforce plan is the first step in tackling the growing number of vacancies. Medical schools are keen to work with NHS England to deliver evidence-based sustainable expansion. Alongside work increasing the number of doctors, it is important that the retention issue is resolved so that future doctors can achieve long-term productive careers in the NHS.

  1. Medical schools are prioritising widening access to the profession.

Medical schools seek to recruit applicants from the widest, most diverse talent pool possible. Significant progress has been made in widening access since the publication of the Selecting for Excellence report ten years ago. Future expansion, including the development of new medical schools, will need to be focused on the recruitment of students from widening participation backgrounds and under-doctored areas. As well as helping to tackle regional shortages, the development of new medical schools in under-doctored areas will play a significant role in increasing patient access to research-led interventions leading to better patient outcomes for local communities.

  1. There are increasing opportunities for innovation in healthcare. Medical training is adapting to meet the demands of the future.

Medical schools provide students with the solid scientific foundations necessary to practise evidence-based medicine. They ensure students are prepared to tackle the future health needs of the population including a growing digital working environment and using new tools and technologies. Data science skills are being added to curricula to equip all doctors with the tools to practise medicine in the 21st century.  

The Medical Schools Council looks forward to supporting the new Secretary of State to address the critical issues facing the health service so that we can build a more resilient and forward-looking NHS.


[1] Grant J & Buxton MJ (2018). Economic returns to medical research funding. BMJ Open 8, e022131.
[2] Wellcome Trust, et al. (2018). Medical Research: What’s it worth? A briefing on the economic benefits of musculoskeletal disease research in the UK.
[3]  KPMG (2019). Impact and value of the NIHR Clinical Research Network. partners-and-industry/NIHR_Impact_and_Value_report_ACCESSIBLE_VERSION.pdf
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