22/10/2003

Schemes set to widen NHS recruitment

The Department of Health, working with the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Learning and Skills Council, has given £3 million to fund pilot schemes to help people from underprivileged backgrounds become doctors and consultants.

Research shows that 70% of the medical school population come from the highest two social classes, although just 37% of the working age population is from this background. Asian ethnic groups are underrepresented in applicants to nursing courses, and there is evidence that black and ethnic minority applicants have difficulty in securing course places.

Likewise, only 30% of applicants to physiotherapy courses and 10% of applicants to occupational therapy courses are male.

The money will go towards ensuring that new recruits to the health service accurately reflect the communities they come from and the communities they serve.

Speaking at the Widening Participation in the Healthcare Professions conference, which was hosted by Universities UK, Health Minister John Hutton said: "The opportunity to develop a career in the healthcare professions should be open to anyone who has the potential and talent, regardless of their background. We can never accept a situation where large sections of our community are effectively held back from joining some of our most important professions."

The money will be used to fund pilot projects looking at access issues which are directly relevant to the healthcare professions. Particular interest will be given to bids involving a link-up between health and education bodies, such as a joint bid from a university and the local SHA.

(gmcg)

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