Medical students need to cut spending on essentials such as food, clothing and heating as they battle costs during their lessons, a survey has found.
The British Medical Association (BMA) is urging the government to reform the means testing process for the NHS scholarship and increase the stipend given to eligible students.
The union has argued that poorer students are at a disadvantage which could jeopardize their future careers in the health service – meaning the NHS risks losing some of its much-needed workforce in the years to come. come.
Its survey of 1,119 medical students across the UK found that 61.8% of students said they had to cut back on essential expenses like food, heating and clothing, while nearly one in 25 said they used food banks.
More than half (53.6%) of students said they had worked during school time, with 73.1% saying it had a negative impact on their studies.
Students who receive an NHS grant have said it will only cover 30% of their expected expenses.
The survey also found that students who received free school meals were less likely to receive financial aid from their parents than non-recipients.
Omolara Akinawonnu, co-chair of the BMA’s medical student committee, described the student funding system as “broken and in need of urgent reform”.
The NHS scholarship, in particular, fails students from low-income backgrounds, forcing them to work long hours in addition to their studies
Omolara Akinawonnu, BMA
She said: “Even before they step into an exhausted and deflated NHS workforce, medical students are working to exhaustion. This negatively affects their studies and leaves them wondering about their future career as doctors.
“The NHS scholarship, in particular, fails students from low-income backgrounds, forcing them to work long hours on top of their studies and clinical placements in the NHS just to make ends meet.”
She said medical students were ‘struggling with astronomical student debt, in some cases totaling up to £100,000’ and ‘questioning their future in the NHS and whether the financial and emotional struggle would be worth it sadness “.
She added: “With the NHS facing an unprecedented workforce crisis and short of more than 8,000 doctors in England alone, the government must urgently review funding for medical students and provide the necessary support, or risk losing talented future doctors even as it invests the funds to train them.
Medical and dental students in England can apply for a non-means-tested grant of £1,000 per academic year, a contribution to tuition fees and a means-tested grant based on their household income.
According to the NHS Business Services Authority website, rates for full-time students can be as high as £2,207 if the student lives with their parents, £3,191 if studying in London and £2,643 if studying outside of London.
The BMA said medical students in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland face similar challenges and their committees will pursue change with their respective governments.
The government said it was keeping funding arrangements for all healthcare students “under review”.
A spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to supporting medical students in England throughout their study years and are reviewing the funding arrangements for all healthcare students.
“Where a student is in financial difficulty and is eligible for the NHS scholarship, additional funding is available where they can claim between £100 and £3,000, as well as wider government support which is in place for people vulnerable and low-income people, including students.