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August 6, 2021
Science facilities at Leeds Sixth Form College, which is launching an Access to Medicine course

Leeds college launching course to help tackle GP shortages

An innovative new course designed to help plug a national shortage of doctors will be launched in Leeds this summer.

Access to Medicine is a fast track, specialist, one year programme that will be taught by Leeds Sixth Form College from September, 2021.

The college is one of just a handful of further education institutions that will be running the course, which is aimed at adult learners who want to progress to university to pursue a medical career but lack the required A levels.

Students of Access to Medicine will be taught in Leeds Sixth Form College’s dedicated laboratory and gain the equivalent of A levels in Chemistry, Biology and Maths – an HE Diploma Level 3 – in just one year.

The UK has been suffering from a major shortage of GPs, as a new report by the BMA makes clear, and courses like this are being used as part of a wider strategy to tackle the problem.

A fast track route into medicine

Principal of Leeds Sixth Form College, Rachael Booth, said: “Leeds Sixth Form College is proud to be helping spearhead this significant new course.

“Access to Medicine courses are designed to do exactly what they say ‘on the tin’ – provide a fast-track route, for adult learners, into the field of medicine.

“This course is particularly important at the current time, when the country is suffering from serious doctor shortages and the healthcare workforce as a whole has been faced with enormous challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are proud to be able to help address those problems by offering Access to Medicine from here at Leeds Sixth Form College, where our specialist staff and facilities are perfectly placed to deliver it.”

The course, for those aged 19 and over, has already been trialled at a few colleges and Leeds Sixth Form College is in discussions with a number of universities about potential tie-ins with their medical schools.

Course Leader at Leeds Sixth Form College, Alex Wilkinson, is certain Access to Medicine will prove popular.

She said: “We get a lot of students from many different backgrounds at the college who tell us they want to do medicine, so we know there is a lot of interest in this – we have a captive audience in a sense.

“And we’ve got the specialists to deliver this, and lots of teachers who have experience in supporting students with A levels.

“This course will get the students onto the first rung of a medical career.”

Addressing a major problem

The BMA’s research suggests that, across general practices and hospitals, there are 2.8 doctors per 1,000 people in England – compared to an average of 3.7 in comparable EU countries.

It warns that: “The medical workforce in England is currently short of around 49,000 FTE (full-time equivalent) doctors. Without significant intervention to the current rate of growth, we estimate the future medical workforce shortage to be between 26,889 and 83,779 FTE doctors by 2043.”

The doctors shortage is also a problem at regional level, with a report by the Medical Defence Society in December, 2019 noting that Yorkshire and Humber (NHS Leeds) was one of the five worst affected areas in the country. For more details about the courses available at Leeds Sixth Form College visit leedssixthform.ac.uk/our-courses/courses/, call 0113 386 1997, or email courses@leedssixthform.ac.uk .