Nurses could train to become doctors by doing ‘part-time’ medical degrees

Nurses could train to become doctors by doing “part-time degrees” under radical proposals to increase the number of medics.

Health officials on Wednesday said they were looking at ways to encourage nurses, pharmacists, and physios to train to become doctors while they earned.

Professor Ian Cumming, head of Health Education England, said “the concept of part-time medical degrees” was among a number of ideas under discussion.

Last year Jeremy Hunt revealed plans to expand the number of medical school places by a quarter to make the health service “self-sufficient” in 2025, with the number coming from elsewhere in Europe expected to fall.

Why is the NHS under so much pressure?

An ageing population. There are one million more people over the age of 65 than five years ago

Cuts to budgets for social care. While the NHS budget has been protected, social services for home helps and other care have fallen by 11 per cent in five years

This has caused record levels of bedblocking, meaning elderly people with no medical need to be in hospital are stuck there. Latest quarterly show occupancy rates are the highest they have ever been at this stage of the year, while days lost to bedblocking are up by one third in a year

Meanwhile rising numbers of patients are turning up in A&E – around four million more in the last decade, partly fuelled by the ageing population

Shortages of GPs mean waiting times to see a doctor have got longer, and many argue that access to doctors since a 2004 contract removed responsibility for out of hours care

Prof Cumming said the NHS should encourage those already working in the service to consider a career in medicine, Pulse magazine reported.

“If you’re a physician associate, or a pharmacist, or a physiotherapist or a nurse, why can’t you work for two or three days a week in that role and study medicine for two or three days a week and gain your medical degree that way?” he told board members.

Earlier this week, the head of the NHS revealed plans to recruit 2,000 GPs from overseas, in a bid to plug growing shortages.

Simon Stevens said the health service needed to must recruit foreign doctors on an “industrial scale” to improve access to GPs and cut waiting times.

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