How to succeed at UK Medical School Interviews

  • The types of interview you can encounter
  • The types of questions you can be asked
  • How to prepare at different stages before the interview

A healthcare system that is free at the point of delivery has been a part of the UK for decades and it’s often a part of the culture that’s showcased. But recently, there’s been a growing debate around whether the NHS is the best way to meet the demand for healthcare while ensuring standards are kept high and we make the most of medical advancements.

There are several reasons why universal healthcare has entered the public debate. Firstly, there have been numerous headlines commenting on the ‘crisis’ the NHS faces and mismanagement of resources. In addition, the debate from the US, has filtered to the UK. Former US President Barack Obama made steps towards a universal healthcare system, a move that divided opinions, but much of these have been cut back by current President Donald Trump. Trump has even used the UK’s ‘broken’ system as an argument against universal healthcare in the states.

But what are the pros and cons of a healthcare system that’s free at the point of deliver?

Benefits of universal healthcare

  • Equal access to healthcare – The core benefit to social healthcare is that it’s accessible to everyone. Citizens don’t have to worry about their health if they lose their job, are on a lower income, or a faced with long-term medical issues. It provides equal access to everyone, no matter their background.
  • Improvements to public health – As everyone is entitled to healthcare without having to pay, overall public health is improved across the board. It means that life expectancy increases, and overall quality of life can improve too. In turn, it can reduce pressure on other economical areas.
  • Majority of healthcare under a single system – As most healthcare is under a single system, it reduces paperwork and red tape that’s associated with health insurance and privatisation.
  • Medical costs reduced – As a universal healthcare provider, it’s possible for an organisation to buy medicine, equipment, and more in bulk, substantially reducing costs.

Drawbacks of universal healthcare

  • Potential for medical abuse – A common complaint against the NHS is that it’s open to abuse. From people attending A&E for minor ailments to patients committing fraud, it places extra financial burdens on the system and means those in real need are affected.
  • Longer wait times – As everyone is using the same system, there are longer waiting times within the NHS when compared to private healthcare. This also links to the system being open for abuse, meaning that vital resources are tied up when they’re needed. It can lead to some patients seeking private care despite the universal healthcare that’s on offer.
  • Increased taxes – While the NHS is free at the point of delivery, it’s paid through national insurance. Having access to a universal healthcare system means more leaving your paycheque every month to find it.

What’s your stance on the NHS and the universal healthcare system in general? Is universal healthcare the best option in the modern world?

From October 2016, new doctors in England were given a rewritten employment contract from their predecessors. Affecting a vast range of areas, from how much doctors can expect to get paid to whether they can switch specialties later in their career, it’s a controversial shake-up that sparked protests across the country.

But what effect does the contract really have and why were the changes brought in?

Firstly, although referred to as the ‘junior doctor contract’ frequently, the changes actually apply to all doctors below the consultant levels, so experienced, senior doctors are affected too. The changes were strongly opposed by many working in the medical profession, but they were eventually agreed on following negotiations between the government, NHS Employers, and the British Medical Associations – although the BMA voted against the new junior doctor contracts but did suspend strike action.

The changes were made following the recommendations of an independent body that aimed to improve patient outcomes across the week. It’s a reason that many of those affected rejected.

So, what are the key changes that were made?

  • Weekend work – Moving forward, weekend work is considered a normal part of the average doctor’s working week as part of the government’s pledge to create a ‘seven-day NHS’. However, most professionals that work at least seven weekends throughout a year will experience an uplift in their pay as a result.
  • Basic pay – The 55,000 junior doctors that are part of the UK did receive a basic pay rise of around 10%, however, this was below the 13.5% previously pledge by the health secretary Jeremy Hunt. According to Hunt, the lower increase is a consequence of changes to other areas of pay.
  • Night work – The amount doctors receive when working night shifts – when working more than eight hours between 8pm and 10am – has fallen. Previously factors enjoyed an extra 50% for a shift, this has fallen to 37%.
  • Safeguarding junior doctors – Much of the dispute over contracts focussed on the pressures that junior doctors face to work excessive hours, putting patient health at risk. To combat this concern, each NHS trust must now have a junior doctor forum that will advise guardians, whose role it is to ensure safe, effective working conditions.
  • Improved equality – Doctors that work part-time or take time our of the profession will now benefit from a greater level of support. Those returning to work will have access to a mentor and targeted accelerated learning programmes to help them get back up to speed.