Exceptionally, this post is unrelated to so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). It addresses a new and worrisome development in UK healthcare. The UK has fewer doctors per population than most other developed countries. This shortage has now reached a level where it puts patients in danger. Recently, the government has unveiled a new NHS plan aimed to fix the problem.

The apprenticeship scheme could allow one in 10 doctors to start work without a traditional medical degree, straight after their A-levels. A third of nurses are also expected to be trained under the “radical new approach”. It is the centerpiece of a long-delayed NHS workforce strategy, following warnings that staff shortages in England could reach half a million without action to find new ways to train and recruit health workers. Amanda Pritchard, the head of NHS England, said: “This radical new approach could see tens of thousands of school-leavers becoming doctors and nurses or other key healthcare roles, after being trained on the job over the next 25 years.” She added that the plan offered a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to put the NHS on a sustainable footing”.

The “medical doctor degree apprenticeship” involves the same training and standards as traditional education routes, including a medical degree and all the requirements of the General Medical Council. Candidates will be expected to have similar A-levels as those for medical school, with qualifications in sciences, as well as options for graduates with non-medical degrees. The key difference behind such models is that apprentice medics would be available on the wards almost immediately, working under supervision, while being paid.

The medical degree apprenticeship is due to launch this autumn.


I am impressed!

Sadly, not in a positive way.

In fact, I cannot remember having ever heard of a more stupid idea for dealing with doctor shortages.

As incompetent amateurs, do the Tories really think that a similar level of incompetence might work also in healthcare?

Such shortages have happened before.

They are regrettable and need swift and firm action.

The only countermeasure that works is to train more doctors.




34 Responses to The apprenticeship scheme for fixing the doctor shortage in the UK

  • I wondered if this would get aired in here!

    It at once struck me as somewhat similar in principle to a tactic tried from time to time in Further Education in Scotland (I don’t know so much about colleges in England). Every so often, an effort would be made to employ “Assessors” or “Facilitators” instead of Lecturers, on much inferior salary and conditions. This has always been strongly resisted by the teaching unions.

    As with teaching/classroom Assistants in schools (very underpaid, in my opinion, for the invaluable service they provide), there may be a place in the NHS for some kind of practitioner assistants, but IN ADDITION to fully qualified medical staff, not INSTEAD of them…..

    In the corporate world, huge salaries are sometimes justified with the argument “If you want to recruit the best people, you have to offer the best package”. But this does not seem to apply so much in other spheres in the UK….. I spoke to an orthopaedic surgeon, who had spent a couple of years working in Australia, and he mentioned the much greater earnings to be had there.

  • Of course I agree with you Edzard, yes we need many more doctors. Yet it is unethical to rob poor countries of their doctors to fill the gap. So we need to build at least 7 new medical schools and then wait 5/6 years for the first graduates to appear. Was what do we do in the meantime? For a start I don’t believe nurses should require a degree before starting their work as apprenticeships on the ward, but they should retain the option later on in their careers. Meanwhile we could look at the workload of doctors and define that which is futile and that can be passed on to assistants who have trained as experts in a narrow field of endeavour for example triage at the door or on the phone, dressing wounds, applying plaster of Paris, putting up drips etc. At the moment we are facing collapse of the NHS. Over the last 6 months I’ve had some serious health issues and never once could I access the NHS, not for wont of trying. So I had to seek help from the private sector. And that is after45 years devoting myself to the NHS as a surgeon.

    • I am very sorry and appalled yet not surprised to hear of your problems.
      What on earth are our politicians doing?
      This looks like a manufactured crisis to me.

      • Why would it be a manufactured crisis? Who gains. I think it’s a spill over from the Covid lockdown. The waiting lists for non-urgent treatments and elective surgery shot up. GPs are working part time or taking early retirement. Brexit might also be a factor because we can’t share our pain with the EU and lost all our European colleagues.

  • Definitely manufactured. They could stop ginning up bogus health emergencies like the so-called Covid pandemic, with much much less than 1% mortality rate, treated as though it were the end of the world, instead of a very bad flu. Then they could treat it in early stages of the disease with multi-drug protocols with off-the-shelf medicines instead of waiting for experimental therapies that may help or in this case didnt work very well.

    • … and you could stop promoting your conspiracy theories!

    • Stan you one-eyed halfwit.

      You might like to sit and talk with my wife who worked as a senior sister in an ICU during the pandemic and saw it increase in size from 20 to 75 beds and who saw more people die in six weeks than she normally did in a year. Less than one percent of a population is a big number but you disease-promoting loons never seem to care about people dying or the healthcare providers who have to look after them.

      • normally, I would ask Lenny to tone down his language; but considering the dangerous nonsense Stan promoted one-eyed halfwit might even be quite a measured term.

      • Lenny,
        You and other death promoting Loons might like to sit and listen to some of the many doctors that had good results treating early (and later) stage Covid. They prevented their patients from seeing the inside of ICUs.
        The ICUs saw more people die of Covid because hospitals had death promoting protocols:
        1) Assigning Covid as cause of death without proof that it was the cause, as opposed to a co-factor to other serious comorbidities that most “Covid” patients had
        2) Not using early stage treatment protocols that would have prevented hospitalization
        3) Telling early stage patients to go home and wait until they were really sick, which is unprecedentedly stupid in medical disease care
        4) Using ventilators that are a risky inappropriate protocol, whereas providing oxygen would have been effective
        5) Using Remdesivir (aka run-death-is-near) which is toxic to kidneys and had no record of benefit

        • Oh, dear, Stan!
          You really have not understood anything.

          • No. You have been oblivious to what happened for the last 3 years. You should get out of the mainstream bubble and breath some fresh air.

            Doctor John Campbell on the other hand paid attention and while firmly supporting the “narrative” early on gradually came around to realizing that the vaccines were a complete disaster.

            You should follow the arc of his reporting. It would be very instructive.

          • Stan

            “Doctor” John Campbell is a nurse and an insigignificant antivax loon with no credibility whatsoever. Each and every claim made by him has been comprehensively debunked. You really should know that YouTube videos are not proof.


          • I get the impression that our resident trolls’ comments get more insane with time. Not only do these loons claim that Covid vaccines were somehow ‘disastrous’ instead of protecting 95% of vaccinated people against serious disease (at least with the Delta variant) while being exceedingly safe – but now they even start denying that we had a deadly pandemic on our hands at all. So one out of every 300 Americans did not die? We didn’t have 2000 US children die from Covid?
            And according to another insane troll, doctors do far more harm than good, causing literally all conditions of which in fact the cause isn’t fully understood yet.
            I’d almost suspect that what we have here is a Long COVID form that seriously affects the brain, causing all sorts of delusions and crazy beliefs while obscuring any information from the real world.

          • Lenny, thank you for pointing to information on John Campbell PhD. I had initially watched a few of his videos on YouTube.

            In my opinion people who are addressing medical topics should be obliged to point it out, if their Doctorate is not in medicine. You naturally assume, otherwise, that they are an MD.

            According to Wikipedia (another complete conspiracy promoter if it doesn’t agree with Stan or Old Bob, no doubt), John Campbell’s Doctorate is in developing methods of teaching via digital media.

          • We should just recognise that everything in the world that does not agree with Stan or Old Bob is a Conspiracy, and the bigger the weight of evidence against Stan or Old Bob, the bigger the Conspiracy!


            John Lorimer Campbell is an English YouTuber and retired nurse educator known for his videos about the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, the videos received praise, but they later veered into misinformation.[2] He has been criticised for suggesting COVID-19 deaths have been over-counted, repeating false claims about the use of ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment, and providing misleading commentary about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. As of January 2023, his YouTube channel had 2.72 million subscribers and over 598 million views.

            In August 2022 David Gorski wrote for Science-Based Medicine that while at the beginning of the pandemic Campbell had “seemed semi-reasonable”, he later became a “total COVID‑19 crank”.[2]

            2. Gorski DH (August 8, 2022). “Conspiracy theories about monkeypox: Déjà vu all over again or same as it ever was?”. Science‑Based Medicine.
            END of QUOTE

            See also:
            Gorski DH (October 17, 2022). “The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t prevent transmission: Antivax disinformation goes viral again”. Science‑Based Medicine.

          • Pete Attkins on Tuesday 16 May 2023 at 11:58 said:

            “…See also:
            Gorski DH (October 17, 2022). “The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t prevent transmission: Antivax disinformation goes viral again”. Science‑Based Medicine.

            That’s what happens when you tell the People that the vaccine will stop transmission and then later tell them that it never did that! – they go all conspiracy-theory on you.

          • Old Bob Says:

            That’s what happens when you tell the People that the vaccine will stop transmission and then later tell them that it never did that! – they go all conspiracy-theory on you.

            OB, Is that your conspiracy theory about how conspiracy theories originate?

        • @Stan

          You clearly point out why the covid death toll numbers were higher than they should have been…. probably by the magnitude of 100% higher. (covid related death should have been 50% lower than reported).

          One more factor, a huge segment of the population that needed healthcare attention were denied attention. I personally was denied a simple lithotripsy procedure for a kidney stone that keep me peeing blood for an additional four months…. complete BS. Who knows how much additional damage was done to my kidney in that time.

      • Lenny on Friday 12 May 2023 at 17:36 said:

        “…You might like to sit and talk with my wife who worked as a senior sister in an ICU during the pandemic and saw it increase in size from 20 to 75 beds and who saw more people die in six weeks than she normally did in a year…”

        She was not alone. Cameron Kyle-Sidell said likewise:

        Even then at that early stage, we were being warned against blanket-use of ventilators.

        Today we know that banning early treatment and blanket use of ventilators caused most of those early deaths.

        E.g. Zelenko used early-treatment to save the lives of 7,000 of his patients without losing a single one. He said “…and they call me a genius for using early-treatment!?…”

        • Any proper papers to support your assertions, OB?

        • @Old Bob
          Can you please explain what these lies that you (and stan, and RG) keep regurgitating have to do with the topic of this blog post?

          • So ginning up a non-existent pandemic has nothing to do with the lack of health care providers for over 2 years? Seems like a pretty clear cause and effect. BGates is telling us another pandemic is just around the corner. They tried to make one out of Monkey Pox. And the WHO is in discussions about how they can preempt sovereign governments by declaring pandemics and requiring them to respond in certain ways.

        • “Most COVID-19 Deaths May Be The Result of a Completely Different Infection”:

          “That commission has not – and may never – come together, so the Covid Crisis Group decided to publish their findings in its stead. They contend that as many as half a million Americans may have died unnecessarily from Covid-19.”:

          • OB, stan and RG a.k.a The Three Antivax Stooges,

            I will echo Richard’s question. What does any of the antivax crap you guys are posting has to do with the topic of this blog post?

          • Talker on Sunday 14 May 2023 at 20:54 said:

            “What does any of the antivax crap you guys are posting has to do with the topic of this blog post?”

            Nothing, if you have managed to avoid the medical system by proper, organic diet + plenty of exercise and sunshine. But if you have become dependent on the NHS, then, for you, it’s a matter of life and death or “excess mortality”.

          • Nothing

            In that case OB, let us talk about how one can play with dirt. One way is to make pottery. Here is a nice tutorial on how to do just that: Let your imagination run wild and make some cool pots.

  • Would I be happy for an apprentice gas fitter to service my boiler? No! Would I be happy for an apprentice electrician to replace my house wiring? No! In fact there are regulations that prohibit this. But it seems the government thinks my body needs less protection than my gas boiler.

    • Fully trained pilots, but who have yet to have the requisite experience, need a ‘consultant’ pilot along with them.
      All those prepared to go on a holiday flight with two apprentice pilots in command of the plane put their hands up please.

      The idea of medical apprenticeship is as old as the hills amongst which Hippocrates taught.
      Before the eighteenth century, most healing had been done by women in the domestic domain.
      Slowly a medical profession emerged (and became male dominated) – but standards were very variable and often appaling.

      After many years of lobbying (in which the BMA was involved for over 40 years), we eventually got the Medical Reform Bill in 1840, and the Act establishing the General Council for Medical Education and Registration in 1858 (later, GMC).

      GMC standards today require university courses leading to a degree in medicine and surgery (two degrees concurrently).
      In future it looks as if we will revert to pre-1858 standards.

      Patients must give informed consent – to do which they need to know the professional status of those treating them.
      What is the polite way of asking:
      “Please tell me what your professional status is.
      Have you degrees in medicine and surgery and have you satisfied the GMC standards as of May 2023?
      Or have you some other status?”

      And what is a courteous way of declining treatment from practitioners a patient feels uneasy about?
      Will patients who wish to be treated by ‘doctors’ trained and registered to today’s standards be obliged to turn to the private sectot?

      Was that consecutive governments’ plan all along – as David Foreman has just pointed out?

      We must be told.

  • Everything (not)happening in the NHS was always predictable because government cannot run anything. If there was anyone in the government who *could* do it, then they would be in medicine and not in the government.

    But the State takes over everything in the name of “protection” – “This is for your protection!” – and without any restrictions on how much this should cost, you find yourself paying more and more for “your own protection” whether you need it or not.

    No one knows what the standards and costs should be (without free-market-discovery) and so arbitrary government-”targets” are dreamed up (why four hours waiting time? Why not ten minutes? Or why ten-minutes / appointment, why not according to how long it takes?) etc. And the whole rotten thing sinks under its own weight with the most skilled abandoning ship ASAP while more and more managers are appointed to fix the problems created by more and more managers.

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