Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


Teaching medical students in general practice is seriously underfunded

22 October 2019


Although there is a standard national tariff for undergraduate teaching in hospitals, arrangements for teaching students in general practice are made  locally, and vary widely across the UK. At a time of difficulty in recruiting new entrants to general practice, students‘ experiences of high-quality clinical placement in general practice are important in achieving greater interest in general practice as a career, but the workforce crisis is adding further pressure to these arrangements.


Professor Joe Rosenthal and colleagues have collected data from 25 English medical schools on the costs of student placements in general practice and found them to be considerably greater than the available funding and broadly comparable with secondary care (hospital) funding. The actual cost of placing a medical student full time in general practice for a 37 week academic year was £40,700 compared with the average payment rate of only £22,000 per year. The authors of the study comment that if this under-resourcing is allowed to continue there will be further attrition in placement capacity, with serious consequences for the NHS workforce.


Quote from the author:

NHS General practices are really struggling to find the time and space to provide medical students with the authentic clinical experience they badly need. This study confirms that the funding currently available to GP undergraduate placement providers is far below the cost to the practice, and also far below the payment available to hospital placement providers.  A more realistic and equitable tariff for primary care education funding is needed as a matter of urgency.’


For more information contact lead author:

Joe Rosenthal j.rosenthal@ucl.ac.uk

07831 879 208


Read the article in the BJGP on-line

Pulse and GP magazines have picked up the story:

Pulse article
GP on-line article