British government says it can’t afford to teach doctors and is encouraging students to go overseas to get their degrees.
They’ve turned away 800 students with top marks in their A levels.
Top-performing teenagers are being shunned by leading universities while the NHS continues to recruit thousands of foreign doctors to plug a staffing crisis.
Official figures reveal that 770 students with three grade As or higher at A-level were rejected by medical schools last year due to a controversial Government quota system.
The Government says it takes £230,000 to fully train each doctor in the UK because of the higher costs of delivering medical education, and critics claim the number of places available at universities is capped to save taxpayers’ money.
That means one in five of straight-A students failed in their application to study at a British medical school last year, according to university applications body UCAS.
As a result, some of the brightest British students are having to train abroad after failing to get into UK universities.
Yet almost 6,000 foreign doctors were hired in the UK last year, despite the fact overseas staff are four times more likely to be struck off for blunders than British counterparts.
A House of Lords NHS Sustainability committee last week warned in a highly-critical report that the NHS was ‘too reliant’ on foreign staff. Committee chair Lord Patel said: ‘It is a farcical situation where the best A-level students are being told they cannot train as doctors in the UK when we are facing a major crisis in the NHS. We are not training enough doctors and the ones we are are leaving the NHS in their droves.
‘We cannot go on like this. We need to own our ability to train doctors. This is the biggest problem facing the NHS.’
Experts say the Government’s pledge to boost the number of UK-trained doctors by 1,500 will be insufficient to tackle the manpower crisis.
Harrison Carter, of the British Medical Association, said: ‘The Government has failed to train enough doctors to meet growing patient demand, leaving the NHS facing crippling staff shortages. It takes at least ten years to train a doctor, but with the NHS at breaking point and patients waiting too long, we need more doctors now.’
MPs have warned there is a shortage of 3,000 doctors on A&E wards, while other experts have said four-week waiting lists to see a GP will soon become the norm.
Thandeka Xhakaza, from Bath, told yesterday how she had to move to Bulgaria to study to be a doctor after being rejected by four British universities last year, despite achieving three A-level As in biology, chemistry and physics. Miss Xhakaza, who aspires to be a brain surgeon, said: ‘It is absurd. There are 300 other British students at my university in Trakia and a further 1,000 more in the capital Sofia.’
UK universities were allowed to recruit just 6,071 medicine students last year, even though the General Medical Council (GMC) registers 13,000 doctors each year.
To train as a doctor in the UK, students need to pass a medical degree that takes five years. This is followed by a two-year foundation course, and then three years’ GP training, or five to eight years in other speciality areas.
The GMC says 30,778 doctors currently come from the EU and other countries in the European Economic Area, while 72,402 were trained elsewhere outside the UK. One in three doctors in Britain comes from abroad, but last year foreign-trained medics made up 72 per cent of those struck off.