Stephen Williams MP - working hard for Bristol West

Stephen Williams MP attacks Labour's burden on doctors

5.31.57pm GMT Thu 22nd Dec 2005

Stephen Williams and student fees poster. (photography: Tim Pollard)

Stephen Williams, MP for Bristol West, has criticised the Government's plans to force graduate medical students in England to pay top-up fees up-front rather than deferred until after graduation.

The Government's plans have already drawn criticism from members of the British Medical Association as likely to reduce the number of graduate medical students and as potentially damaging efforts to attract people from less affluent backgrounds into the medical profession.

Last month, students from Bristol University's medical school contacted Stephen Williams in his capacity as their local MP. Mr Williams wrote to the Minister for Higher and Further Education, Bill Rammell MP, asking what damage his department thought this policy will have on the drive to encourage people from a wider range of social groups to become doctors. In his reply Mr Rammell made no recognition that upfront fees will act as a disincentive for poorer students.

Commenting on this issue Stephen Williams MP said "The Government is placing yet more financial burdens on medical students."

"It is vital that this country attracts the most talented people to study medicine, regardless of their background. The huge sums of money that the Government demands to be paid upfront will mean that only the wealthiest students can afford to choose to study medicine after a first degree."

"The NHS needs a highly skilled and diverse body of doctors. The government should seriously re-think its policy on up-front payment of fees to make sure medicine is a viable career for the talented and not just the wealthy."

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Next news story: Stephen Williams MP calls time on airline discrimination (Thu 5th Jan 2006).

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