Medical Research at Risk

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Byline: Sophie Blakemore Health Correspondent

Britain's worldwide reputation for medical training and research could be jeopardised unless a massive shortage of clinical researchers in universities is addressed, a leading medical expert warned last night.

Professor William Doe, dean of the world-renowned medical school at the University of Birmingham, said medical graduates were reluctant to take on the demanding academic roles in favour of better paid NHS consultant posts.

This could eventually impact on the training offered to undergraduates with a knock-on effect to treatment received by patients. Urgent action was vital to make clinical research posts more attractive, he cautioned.

'Clinical researchers are in danger of becoming endangered species if the right balance is not struck and pathways are not cleared to encourage medical graduates to come in and become tomorrow's leaders,' he said.

'Without that we will not have the same level of excellence in research discovery and the translation of this in terms of diagnosis and treatments for patients.

'The potential risk of not redressing what appears to be a significant imbalance is that medical training of undergraduates will be affected. 'Even research-intensive successful medical schools are feeling the brunt of this but not to the same extent. We are in danger of losing clinical research and to expand the number of medical students we need these roles.

'There are currently 2,500 medical students in the system in the UK and we are very grateful for the teaching and training they get in the NHS but it must be led by academics.'

He spoke to The Birmingham Post after a study conducted by London's medical schools and the former head of Nottingham University's medical school found Government funding cuts had left 80 medical professor posts vacant across the UK. …