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Medical Students (Intake)

Volume 641: debated on Friday 5 May 1961

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asked the Minister of Health whether he is reviewing, in the light of the current and future needs of the National Health Service, the conclusions of the Willink Committee on the intake of medical students, and if he will make a statement on future policy in this respect.


asked the Minister of Health how many general medical practitioners are needed in England and Wales to bring the service up to the strength that he estimates is now required.


asked the Minister of Health if the recommendation of the Willink Committee that student intake by British medical schools should be reduced by 10 per cent. in 1962 is still in accordance with Government policy.

The Secretary of State for Scotland and I are reviewing the data and calculations which under lie the estimates in the Willink Committee's Report. The student intake is larger now than when the Committee reported.

I am very glad indeed to know that the Minister is reviewing this, but would he now appreciate that this was one of the most disastrous reports upon the Health Service ever acted upon by his Department, and will he now agree with the view of eminent people that there is a shortage of doctors in the National Health Service?

So far from a reduction of student intake following upon that Report, the intake is higher now than it was four years ago.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how much overcrowding in medical schools is due to the acceptance of some part of the Willink Report? Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many schools are overcrowded and what steps he has in mind for the future to diminish this overcrowding?

Not without notice, but I do not think the Report and its conclusions can have contributed to whatever may be the present state of overcrowding.

Would not the Minister agree that if the young registrars who help to staff particularly our provincial hospitals and who come from the Commonwealth were to be withdrawn—who may well not come in great numbers in the future—we should be in very great difficulty indeed?

I quite agree that this is an important factor in the statistical picture.