Medical schools urged to prioritise exams for final-year students to help tackle coronavirus

UK medical schools have been urged to help final-year medical students qualify in order to help in the fight against coronavirus. (Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images)

The UK’s medical schools are being urged to take steps to ensure final-year medical students can qualify and help tackle the spread of coronavirus.

In its guidance to UK medical schools, the Medical Schools Council (MSC) said it was important that final year qualifying exams are prioritised and that new doctors weren’t prevented from joining the workforce in the summer.

Several medical schools, including Cambridge and Oxford universities and University College Londond have already taken steps including ending clinical teaching and releasing academics amid concerns teaching is tying up hospital doctors and GPs who could otherwise be helping the NHS.

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In its official advice, the MSC said: “The GMC has confirmed that if a final year student is deemed by the university to have met the GMC’s required outcomes and has graduated, then subject to fitness to practise the GMC will provisionally register that doctor.

“It is important that medical schools do not delay qualification and so prevent new doctors joining the workforce in the summer.

“We advise that final year qualifying exams are prioritised where they have not yet taken place.”

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It suggested that finals exams were simplified as far as possible and that patients are not used in final clinical exams.

In a section titled: “general advice on medical students working in the NHS pre-qualification”, the MSC predicted that many medical students who have already passed finals would want to volunteer to work in the NHS and said they encourage it.

“Important principles are that it must be their own decision, they should not be allowed to work beyond their competencies, they should be given full necessary personal protection and full instruction in its use, and they should be fully supervised with clear governance arrangements.”

It said opportunities might be available for students to help in clinical services like fracture clinics that would help ease the pressure on A&E departments or working as call handlers for the NHS 111 service.