Social Mobility APPG Access into Leading Professions Inquiry

Session Two: Access into Medicine

Tuesday, 24 May 2016 from 15:00 to 17:00

Committee Room 11, House of Commons

Panel 1 – Access into Medical School

  • Katie Petty-Saphon, Chief Executive of the Medical Schools Council
  • Professor Ged Byrne, Director of Education and Quality, Health Education England
  • Dr Kevin Murphy, Department of Medicine at Imperial College London
  • Dr Paul Docherty, Hull York Medical School
  • Sukhprett Dubb, NHS Junior Doctor

Panel 2 – Progress through the medical profession

  • Ian Balmer, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Medicine
  • Martin Hart, Assistant Director of Education at General Medical Council
  • Clare McNaught, Consultant General and Colorectal Surgeon at Scarborough Hospital
  • Prof Stephen Holgate, Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology, Medical Research Council
  • Anne Corrin, Interim Head of Education at the Royal College of Nursing

Parliamentarians in attendance

  • Justin Madders MP (Chair)
  • Baroness Tyler (Co-Chair)
  • Lucy Allan MP (Vice-Chair)
  • Lucy Frazer MP
  • Barry Sheerman MP


The issue of access into medicine emerged as one of particular interest following the publication of the Sutton Trust’s report Leading People 2016, with its findings around medicine leading the front page of The Times. Looking at working-age professionals with fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians, listed in the directory Who’s Who, the Sutton Trust found that nearly two thirds (61%) attended independent schools, 22% were educated at grammar schools and 16% attended comprehensives.

This session investigated why one of the most prestigious and respected state funded professions (at least predominantly) is recruiting such a disproportionate number of people educated in the independent sector. It was an absorbing session, discussing the fascinating initiatives that being adopted to widen access into medical careers as well as digging deeper into the challenges that persons from disadvantaged backgrounds face to get in. The session also exposed the next phase of the widening access issue – professional development, which might be even more complicated to tackle.

Crucially, what we identified in this session that was very telling for our wider inquiry was that similar solutions to widening access were proposed for medicine as they had been in the fields of law, accountancy and finance:

  • contextualising admissions;
  • the importance of high quality careers advice in schools;
  • encouraging school-recruiter (in this case the medical school) collaboration;
  • the significance of work experience (particularly to mitigate networking effects);
  • a need for greater and more consistent data transparency (for understanding and accountability).

The other issue that came up frequently was that the recording of the high UCAS entry points tariff for medical school on university league tables is driving up entry requirements and creating a huge barrier to access, although there was recognition that league tables are difficult to control because there’s no central arbiter.

A full summary may be found by clicking the PDF on the right sidebar, along with data from the Medical Schools Council underlying the widening participation challenges that medicine faces.

Media enquiries

If you're a journalist with a question about our work, get in touch with Hilary or Ruby. If it's out of office hours, you can call or text 07917 462 164.

E: [email protected] T: 020 7802 1660

Keep up to date with the latest news