Medical Training Boost to Bolster NHS Workforce

The government has allocated an additional 350 medical school places, to deliver the future workforce the NHS requires.  

Last year, the NHS set out its Long Term Workforce Plan, backed by more than £2.4 billion in government funding. It outlines how the NHS will recruit and retain hundreds of thousands more staff over the next 15 years – delivering the biggest training expansion in the health service’s history.

One of the key commitments is doubling the number of medical school places in England to 15,000 by 2031, and levelling up the geographic training of places to help tackle unequal access to services.

In the next step to deliver this commitment, the Office for Students (OfS) has now allocated 350 places in the academic year 2025/26 to medical schools across the country.

Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins said: “Thanks to the Government’s plan for a faster, simpler and fairer healthcare system, the NHS now has record funding, and a record number of doctors.

I want to make sure that we will have the medical professionals we will need in the years ahead.

“That’s why we are delivering the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, and doubling the number of medical school places, so we can train the next generation of world-class doctors to offer patients the highest-quality care.”

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan added: “Our frontline health workers do tremendous work in serving the nation every single day and ensuring all of us receive the care we need.

“I know what a popular career medicine is among young people, and it’s so important they have the chance to pursue their ambitions.

“With this expansion of places – alongside our new doctor degree apprenticeship – the opportunities for a career in medicine are greater than ever.”

The funding seeks to address healthcare inequalities throughout the country

Places have been provided across the country, but the OfS has used analysis of geographical distribution provided by NHS England to target under-doctored areas in its allocation of the places.

This includes substantial increases to medical schools at universities in Sunderland, Leeds, East Anglia, Anglia Ruskin, Plymouth and Surrey. The University of Surrey is also receiving government-funded places for the first time.

Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of NHS England commented: “This is a hugely important moment for the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan and marks one of the first steps towards our ambition to train more doctors in England than ever before – the record expansion will help us boost care for patients right across the country.

The ambitious blueprint for our workforce, is a once in a generation opportunity to put NHS staffing on a sustainable footing, particularly as we continue to adapt to new and rising demand for health services.

This is the second year of expansions to deliver the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan. Delivery started a year early, allocating 205 additional medical school places for the 2024/25 academic year, including providing Government-funded places to three schools for the first time.

This builds on the 25% expansion of medical school places in England that the Government completed in 2020, taking the total number of places to 7,500 per year and delivering five new medical schools.

A combination of the additional medical places this year and next, along with medical apprenticeship places, puts us on track to exceed current plans.

Through the allocation of places for 2026/27 and beyond, the Government and NHS England will work closely with partners including medical schools, NHS trusts and the General Medical Council to deliver ambitious reforms to medical education set out in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan.