This site is intended for health professionals only

Write off doctors’ student loans, major report says

Write off doctors’ student loans, major report says
By Jess Hacker
5 February 2024

The Government should write off student loans for doctors, nurses and midwives who stay in the NHS, a major new report has advised.

In its new report (5 February), the Times Health Commission called for those staff who stay in the NHS for three years to have their student debt cut by 30%, rising to 70% for those still working after seven years, and 100% after 10.

It said the health services must become a ‘much better employer’ in ways that go ‘beyond health settlements’, including affordable staff canteens, night transport and on-site childcare.

The requirement for junior doctors to rotate across the country must also end to better balance work and family, it said.

It forms one of 10 major recommendations to Government to transform the NHS, alongside a salt tax and creating digital health accounts for patients.

Key recommendations

  1. Creating digital health accounts for patients via the NHS app
  2. Introducing weekend high intensity theatre lists to get through a week of planned operations in a day to reduce waiting lists
  3. Reform the GP contract to focus on wider health outcomes
  4. Write off student loans for doctors, nurses and midwives who stay with the NHS for a decade
  5. Introduce no-blame compensation for medical errors with settlements determined according to need to ensure families get quick support
  6. A National Care System, equal to but different from the NHS, to administer care locally
  7. Guarantee mental health support is timely for children and young people
  8. Expand the sugar tax to cover salt and institute a pre-watershed ban on junk food advertising
  9. Incentivise NHS staff to take part in research
  10. Establish a Healthy Lives Committee legally bound to commit to increasing healthy life expectancy by five years in a decade.

Chair of the Times Health Commission Rachel Sylvester said: ‘Despite its huge challenges, there is enormous cause for optimism for our health service. The NHS and social care system must seize the extraordinary opportunities on offer in the modern digital world to empower patients, liberate clinicians, improve services, drive efficiencies and create a healthier Britain. Other countries have done it and so could we.’

Commenting on the report, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation said: ‘Many of these suggestions will align closely with the views and aspirations of health leaders.

‘It is very welcome to see an emphasis on the vital role that technology can play in healthcare and in this fast-moving digital age, it is more important than ever that the NHS keeps pace.’

Mr Taylor, who was a commissioner involved in the report, added: ‘he NHS is recognised as one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the developed world, but we know that more can be done to improve productivity, and health leaders and their teams are always looking at ways to generate even greater efficiencies.

‘One of the crucial ways that this productivity challenge can be addressed is by providing the NHS with the capital investment it needs, which has not been covered in this comprehensive report. Specifically, in England, capital funding needs to increase to at least £14.1 billion annually, a £6.4 billion increase from the current level of £7.7 billion. This is vital if we are to increase productivity and reduce waiting lists.’

Want news like this straight to your inbox?

Related articles