Debt is holding back next generation of doctors
People studying to be doctors are being held back by the massive debts incurred in studying medicine, the BMA has found.
11:45 10 January 2005
People studying to be doctors are being held back by the massive debts incurred in studying medicine, the British Medical Association (BMA) has found.
The BMA discovered that the average debt owed by a fifth-year medical student now stands at 19,248 - 16 per cent more than last year - with a large number of students owing more than 30,000.
Moreover, almost all students (94 per cent) had taken out a student loan, with two in three (65 per cent) having an overdraft as well. The average size of the overdraft was found to be 1,462.
One third of fifth and sixth-year medical students also had a bank loan.
There was an increase in the average debt for all medical students of 18 per cent, with one person owing 56,000 - 15 per cent higher than the largest single debt last year.
Additionally the BMA has found that changes to NHS working patterns mean first year doctors will generally earn less, to go with increased debts.
Almost all of the 1,314 medical students polled were in debt (98.3 per cent) amid fears that medicine could become elitist.
The BMA discovered that while 62 per cent of students have parents from a managerial or professional background, just one in 12 come from a 'blue collar' background.
Leigh Bissett, chair of the BMA's medical student committee, said: "This is further evidence of the huge financial problems facing medical students, particularly those from low income families.
"There is clearly a major problem and with the introduction of top-up fees it is set to become even worse. If the Government is serous about opening up medical careers to students from all backgrounds, it needs to tackle the financial incentives to studying medicine.
"If we fail to take the problem seriously we will deny many talented students fair access to careers in the NHS and deny patients the chance to benefit from their skills."