Urgent action is needed to reverse the continuing decline in the number of academics working in UK medical schools, the BMA said Friday, 18 May 2007 .
Recent figures from The Medical Schools Council (formerly the Council of Heads of Medical Schools) show that the clinical academic workforce fell yet again last year to 2937, just 83% of 2000 levels. Although the rate of decline between 2005 and 2006 slowed to 1%, this new report indicates a 5% fall in the number of lecturers in 2005/06 and a 16% increase in the number of academics aged over 46 since 2004.
Commenting on the new figures, Professor Michael Rees, chairman of the BMAs Medical Academic Staff Committee, says:
Any slowdown in the exodus of academics from clinical education is to be welcomed, but the fine print of this report is deeply troubling. The number of teaching staff in UK medical schools is now drastically below the already inadequate levels at the beginning of the decade. Most worryingly, a lack of new recruits is resulting in an ageing academic population, a situation that can only lead to a further decline in the number of clinical educators in the years to come.
Medical students need well trained and experienced academic staff to guide them through their education. If these teachers are in short supply, the quality of our entire medical workforce will be under threat.
Employers and the Government must take urgent action to reverse this deep seated decline in the medical academic workforce before further damage is done to the education system. To encourage doctors to join our medical schools we must continue to expand the number and quality of academic research posts, particularly academic training posts, and make it easier for doctors to move between the NHS and academic employment. Renewed investment in the entire medical education system is also required to show potential recruits that once in post they will have the tools an
d support to properly educate the next generation of doctors.
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