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Supporting statement to University of Dundee research published today

21.01.16

The following is a statement from Dr Katie Petty-Saphon, Chief Executive of the Medical Schools Council, supporting the release of  the research article 'Fair access to medicine? Retrospective analysis of UK medical schools application data 2009-2012 using three measures of socioeconomic status', as reported in the Guardian article 'Students from wealthy backgrounds dominate medical schools'.

‘The Medical Schools Council welcomes this research as adding to the body of evidence which shows the imbalance in the medical profession. The imbalance is significant because it tells us that there is more we can do to ensure that future doctors are selected on merit, which is what the population expects. Widening the talent pool will mean we can find the best doctors wherever they are. 

‘One key to this is aspiration. The first and greatest barrier among bright young people from poorer backgrounds is to get them to see medicine as an option for them. Another key is to support applicants through what can be a complex application process – there is often less of this support available in state schools. Medical schools have lots of initiatives to tackle these issues, and coordination is needed to ensure that the right methods are used in the right places. 

‘A new example of coordinating efforts is the Primary Futures ‘Who’s in Health?’ campaign, which provides a means for volunteers such as medical students to go into primary schools around the UK to inspire children about healthcare. Another great initiative is Reach Scotland, where the Scottish medical schools coordinate to target the most deprived secondary schools on a Scotland-wide level, rather than just those near to medical schools. There is of course a delay in initiatives like this coming to affect the medical student population. 

‘Selection processes for medicine are not just for a degree but for a profession – this can make them complex. Research into ways of letting applicants’ talent shine through no matter their background, such as by using contextualised data, will be important, and the Medical Schools Council has today commissioned a team to look at how medical schools across the UK can better use contextualised data.’
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